Corporate culture fluff

Paul Woods asked the question today, how do you assess corporate culture?

Say you are applying for a job at company x… how would you go about assessing the corporate culture there? How is the culture at company x better than company y? And how do you measure it? Sure they have that HR page on their website that says that it is a great place to work… but how do you look past the brochure and actually get a feel for it yourself?

Let’s take Microsoft for example. At first, I would use Wikipedia to get a rough picture of the company. I choose Wikipedia because it is easily accessible and fairly unbiased, however it is still mostly an external viewpoint from people outside of Microsoft so it’s not in-depth enough alone.

Moving towards something more internal, Microsoft has a huge reputation for corporate blogging, so I would definitely have a look at blogs such as the Microsoft Careers blog and other employee blogs.

Not that I’d only look at three resources, but in conclusion, people is the key. Whether its past or current employees, these people would know the culture more than anyone else. So I’ll definitely try my hardest to get in touch with them, whether through email, instant messaging or even phone calls, talking to these people would give me the best insight into the corporate culture of the company.

Of course nothing beats experiencing it yourself. Getting a tour or starting an internship at the organisation would be better than all of the above, obviously a lot harder too.

2 insightful thoughts

  1. Wikipedia unbiased? Now that’s pretty funny. That’s like saying the Register is a consistently reliable source of news.

    How do you assess corporate culture? For many companies, you can’t, at least, not 100% accurately. Even the corporate blogs should be taken with a pinch of salt; there have already been a few cases of people being fired for saying things in blogs their employer didn’t take kindly to. So people are hardly going to bitch about their workplace on the company blog. Obviously, getting in touch with people who work, or have worked there is always a good way, but it’s not always possible. But really, assessing company culture should be part of the interview process. Remember, you get to ask questions too, and it may be an idea to ask the receptionist what he/she thinks of the place before you even set foot in the interview room.

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