How do I figure out workplace culture...as a job-seeker?
December 28, 2013 6:46 AM Subscribe
I'm currently employed, but looking for a new position, due in part to cultural aspects of my current job that are a bad fit. How do I figure out the culture of a prospective employer without dooming my candidacy?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
These are the kinds of issues I'm talking about:
1) My current job requires me to start at 9 a.m. Most days I'm the first one in (and well before 9), but I've also been scolded for arriving at 9:07. This is not shift work, and no one is affected by my running a few minutes late. I don't have a problem with being at work at 9, but I do have a problem with being talked to on the rare day that I'm not. Ideally I'd work for a company that doesn't care when you start as long as you get your work done, but realistically I'd like to find a manager who trusts me to arrive at a reasonable time and notify him/her if I'll be significantly delayed.
2) My boss won't permit me to wear headphones (which is how I best drown out distractions and focus on work), claiming it's unprofessional, but she has no problem with my coworkers making numerous personal calls a day from their desks. This seems illogical and unfair.
3) Everyone in my current department has worked together for more than a decade. I've been there less than two years. I don't mind being friendly with coworkers--hell, I met my spouse when we worked together years ago!--but I'm also tired of being the odd one out through no fault of my own.
4) Although my company allows telecommuting, no one in my department is permitted to work from home except my boss--not even on an occasional, circumstantial basis like waiting for a repairperson to arrive.
None of these are dealbreakers, and I understand that companies have reasons for the way they do things. I guess what I'm looking for is a place that is thoughtful about these kinds of issues and values employees enough to address them. I wouldn't care so much about not being permitted to work from home except that no one can explain to me why I can't. So how do I find those kinds of companies and managers?
I always look through a company's site and skim Glassdoor before an interview, but often those aren't specific enough. What kinds of questions can I ask in an interview or a networking situation to suss out these kinds of things--and how can I ask in a way that doesn't make me look like a terrible candidate?