Job seekers are looking for the perfect match

Job seekers typically zero in on the basics of pay, benefits, and work-life balance. But wise ones will focus on the most important step of the process: making sure their prospective employer is a suitable workplace culture match.

Jobseekers look for perfect matchDespite the allure of perks, research shows perks don’t result in long-term job satisfaction. What really matters in the long haul is workplace culture. Employees need to ensure they have found a good fit. It starts with knowing what to look for and what questions to ask about an organization.

1. What’s the point?

People want to feel they are contributing to something meaningful. They will pull up the company website and take a look around.

  • Is it easy to pick out its mission, purpose, and vision?
  • Why does the company appear to exist?
  • Are the company values stated—and do they resonate personally?
  • Ask a friend or trusted partner, “Does this describe me?”

2. Take a values check

Interviewers should be able to share — and explain the meaning behind — the company’s core values.

  • What is the company’s mission and purpose?
  • What are some examples of “living the core values”?

People will be checking for a couple of things. First, do the company’s values have meaning? And second, is it clear that employees internalize and practice them? Prospective employees need to know what’s most important to the organization — and how people work together on an everyday basis.

If the company’s values are just words on a page, and the person leading the interview isn’t able to articulate these points, smart job seekers might consider this a red flag.

3. Who’s doing the talking?

Interviewers should give job seekers the opportunity to speak and to ask questions. If there is not a meaningful exchange of listening and talking, this is another red flag. It’s also an indication that psychological safety might not exist within the organization.

4. Beware job and recruiting sites

Avoid giving credence to websites that allow employees — and former employees — to anonymously review companies and their management. While popular among job seekers, these websites don’t verify their sources. There’s no way to know whether the comments are coming from a competitor or a recently fired employee who has an axe to grind.

Smart job seekers will find the workplace culture answers they need to make an informed decision — and hopefully clinch a job that’s satisfying for the long term.

Doug Claffey is founder and chief strategy officer at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces.

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