How to Determine Your Ideal Culture Fit During Your Executive Job Search

Did you know that cultural fit is more important in predicting employee happiness and productivity and commitment to an employer than talent, skill or even experience. 

So even if an executive job seems picture perfect on paper, if the company's culture does not align with your values, goals and personal expectations, it may have a major impact on your long-term job performance and satisfaction.

But What Is "Company Culture" And How Do You Determine Your Ideal Fit?

Cultural Fit in Executive Job Search

Conventionally, company culture would be defined in the company's workplace policies, HR handbook and often in the mission statement itself. However, company culture is more latent and lies in the organization's behavior, beliefs, and values. 

In the mind of the job seeker, the term "company culture" often means something different. You could probably be looking for their work style, level of formality, transparency in communication, work habits, employee engagement, and personal growth.

In this post we'll take a look at how you can determine your ideal culture fit during your executive job search to find a rewarding executive placement that brings out the best in you:

Do Your Research 

In any job search, it’s important to do your homework. All that glitters is not gold, and no matter how rosy the job description looks, once you've done your research you'll have a better sense if the company's culture matches with your ideals and expectations.

The first thing to do would be to find out the core values of the company. Visit their website and read the “About Us” section. An observation of the pictures and language used will give you an idea of the kind of image they want to portray to the world. 

Many companies have pages on their website that talk about what it’s like to be part of their team. A fine reading of the job listings can also reveal what benefits they offer and how their employees experience personal and professional growth. 

You can also check out what people are saying about the company on popular review sites. Reviews by ex-employees, of course, need to be taken with a grain of salt, but if you do find a common thread, you’ll know what to watch out for.

Read recent press releases as well their posts on social media especially on Facebook and LinkedIn. This will give you some insights on what projects the company is currently working on and which direction they are headed.

Ask a Person on the Inside

There is no better way to find out what life inside the company is really about other than to talk with someone who is currently employed there. Approach this strategically, though. If you currently don’t know anyone at that organization, reach out to people on LinkedIn who are at a similar level that you’d be at the company. Start out by explaining your intent to apply and ask if they (or someone they recommend) would be willing to have a short phone call to learn more about the work environment and corporate culture.

A couple of politely phrased open-ended questions could be a little bold, but most people will likely share interesting tidbits about their jobs and companies. Whether you get to hear them bragging about their job or just complain, either way, you will get a feel of the work culture.

Ask the Right Questions During the Interview

Your interview is a great way to gauge company culture – or just flat out ask about it. Many executive interviews tend to be made offsite or in tucked away offices. If you have the chance, ask for a tour of the office. You’ll not only see the layout of the workspace (do they have an open office space or 6-foot tall cubicles?), but also get a quick glimpse into how people interact with each other in the office.  

In your interview, you can ask specific culture questions. Here are a couple things you’ll want to find out:  

  • “How are executives viewed in the company?” For an executive placement, ask how the executive team is seen by the other employees. Is there an ‘open door’ policy or is it an ‘us versus them’ mentality? If you’re looking (or being hired) to influence the culture, ask candidly if employees would be open to the shift or if it will be an uphill challenge. 

  • “How often do you promote from within? What incentives are in place for outstanding performance?” Reading in between the lines to the impromptu answers can tell you a lot about their corporate culture and what you might be stepping into. How do they treat their employees? Are they motivated—and rewarded—to succeed?

  • “Is there a social culture here?” It is also important to learn how close-knit the team is. Do they socialize regularly after work? Is the company open to changes in a personal situation by allowing remote work or fewer hours when such a need arises? This will give you an idea to the extent the company is willing to be flexible in supporting you or your employees’ personal needs.

Cultural fit is becoming a more critical aspect of the job hunt. Finding out as much as you can prior to accepting a position is important to your own success and the success of the company.  

Do you know that your current company isn’t a cultural fit for you? Or do you have a company you know would be a great fit culturally and a great next step in your career, but don’t have the executive-level resume created for it? I can help! Schedule a free 30-minute discovery call to learn about my services and client-focused process to make sure your documents are ready for your next career step.