How to know if you're a good 'cultural fit' before accepting a new job

Lydia Smith
Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
Making sure the company is right for you is vital. (Getty Images)

Trying to find a new job can be time-consuming, exhausting and frustrating. It involves searching through job descriptions, sending lengthy applications and going to interviews, as well as receiving rejections. 

When you are finally offered a new position at a company, it is tempting to accept without giving it a second thought. Even if the job seems great and the work is what you were looking for, it’s still important to consider whether the culture at the company is right for you. 

So why is a company’s culture so important when considering a new job - and how can you find out if you are a good fit?

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A company’s culture can be seen as the values and beliefs of the company, as well as the behaviours and experiences that make up the working environment. For example, some firms may put an emphasis on a good work-life balance - which may mean employees go home on time and the company encourages flexible working.

We spend a huge amount of time in the workplace – up to 90,000 hours of our lives – so having a good work environment is essential for our health and wellbeing. 

“If you work full-time, it’s fair to say you spend more time at work than anywhere else. And more time with your colleagues than anyone else,” says Jo Cresswell, careers expert at the job site Glassdoor

“Employees reach their full potential when they feel they can be themselves and bring their authentic self to work. Workplace experience and enjoyment of the culture is therefore highly important when it comes to overall satisfaction at work.” 

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“Evidencing this, research from Glassdoor Economic Research, based on analysis of employee reviews on Glassdoor, found that culture and values are the biggest driver of employee satisfaction in the UK. This is followed by senior leadership and career opportunities.” 

If a new employee doesn’t mesh well with a company, it can lead to a lack of engagement, poor work quality and decreased job satisfaction too. A toxic working environment for staff can often result in a high turnover, which can be costly to a company. 

Do your research 

You can get a good idea of a company’s culture on its website. “Typically, this is where you’ll find information about how the company was founded, its mission statement and core values,” Cresswell says. 

“Then, to understand authentic experiences of those who work within the business and how they feel about the company culture, check out reviews on the company’s Glassdoor profile left by current and former employees. Companies’ Glassdoor profiles and social media channels will also often display photos and videos of employees within the business which can give you an even better idea of the culture.” 

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Ask questions 

Most people forget that a job interview is actually a two-way street. It’s a chance for employers to find a skilled, ambitious new staff member, but it’s also an opportunity for the interviewee to find out more about the company.

If they don’t seem to prioritise employee health, wellbeing and satisfaction - or are disinterested in the welfare of their staff - taking the job may be a bad idea. 

[Text Wrapping Break]“During the interview, be sure to ask culture-specific questions based on what your research has uncovered,” says Cresswell. “If you have any concerns, such as around work-life balance and employee turnover, voice these. If you want to dig deeper into elements such as social clubs or volunteering initiatives, ask for examples of how these initiatives work and how many employees take part.” 

Speak honestly with yourself 

There are many factors to consider when accepting a job offer, including the day-to-day work, the hours and of course, the pay. Culture is also an important issue to think about too, though, particularly if you are planning to stay in the job for the foreseeable future. 

“Truthfully think about whether the culture you glean from your research and the interview process aligns with your own personality, passions and values,” Cresswell says. “If it doesn’t, it might not be the job for you.”