by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer
Company culture, the social climate of an organization, is a vital but elusive consideration to weigh when you’re interviewing for a job. Intuition alone seems an inadequate measure. How do you ask the right questions to tease out key cultural clues? How do you pick up on the right cues? How can you double check your intuition?
Knowing what you need from a professional culture anchors an informed candidacy. Leaders shape culture mindfully and purposefully. Your approach to a cultural evaluation should be mindful too. After all, cultural fit isn’t a nice add-on; cultural fit is job fit.
It’s hard to split your concentration between being a savvy cultural evaluator and being a stellar interviewee. Rather than having the distance that you need to truly observe the culture and reflect on its nuances, the interview can feel like a tour of culture guided by an interviewer who has a vested interest in shaping your perceptions.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a better approach to cultural assessment, rather than just listening to your gut? Good news: Glassdoor has just the tool for you.
Why Culture Matters
What exactly is culture, and why does it matter so much when it comes to your job satisfaction? Professors Charles A. O’Reilly and Jennifer A. Chatman define culture as “a set of norms and values that are widely shared and strongly held throughout the organization.” These values underscore employees’ experience. If your employer values innovation, for example, you feel that. The cultural framework, with which you interact daily, is infused with the value.
Interestingly, Glassdoor research reveals that eighty-five percent of CEOs and CFOs agree that a dysfunctional corporate culture leads to unethical behavior, demonstrating that leaders recognize that the culture they shape directly impacts the output their employees render.
Clearly, culture matters, so how do you evaluate it in the tight space that a job interview affords?
Tooled For Success
Created by Dr. Donald Sull, MIT Sloan School of Management senior lecturer and co-founder of CultureX, the Culture 500 tool applies AI technology to Glassdoor’s rich data, scientifically ranking the corporate cultures of more than 500 top US companies. Collectively, the companies employ 34 million people, approximately one-quarter of private sector employment.
MIT researchers started their work by analyzing 1.2 million Glassdoor reviews. They used a natural, language processing algorithm to classify free text into more than 80 culture-related topics; those were then categorized into nine cultural values, affectionately termed “the Big Nine.”
Getting to Know the Big Nine
The Culture 500 calculates the percentage of mentions and positive reviews that each company earns across each of these Big Nine values. Job seekers can customize cultural evaluations by pulling a set of companies and comparing them along any of these Big Nine values:
Agility: Agile companies are nimble, flexible and quick to seize an opportunity. Internet and management consulting companies are leading industries when it comes to this value. Uber is a top-notch practitioner of this corporate value.
Collaboration: When companies exercise this value, their employees are cohesive and productive, within their group and across teams. Fast food and retail apparel are some industries that have this down to a science; HP is a standout.
Customer: The customers’ needs are central, for businesses that radiate this value. The company prides itself on listening to customers and creating value for them. Pharma & bio tech and Medical devices are leading industries, while Chick Fil A is a distinguished player.
Diversity: Bring yourself, because there’s a place for everyone in these inclusive cultures. Diversified financial services and consumer goods are some top industries when it comes to cultivating diverse cultures, and TD Bank is a leader.
Execution: Companies implement this value by fostering behaviors like taking personal accountability for results, delivering on commitments, prioritizing the activities that matter most, and adhering to process discipline. Toyota is a high performer when it comes to execution.
Innovation: Companies that value and fuel creativity and experimentation and are eager to implement new ideas exhibit this value. Communications equipment and enterprise software are lead industries when it comes to innovation, and SpaceX is a standout.
Integrity: Staff members across the board, from entry-level professionals to company leaders, maintain a code of honesty and ethics that consistently inform their actions. Industrial conglomerates and electrical equipment companies are leading industries when it comes to integrity, and Charles Schwab is top notch.
Performance: The company recognizes performance and rewards results through compensation, recognition and promotion, and it handles underperforming employees tactfully and strategically. The insurance and semi-conductor industries stand out when it comes to performance, and Goldman Sachs is a leader.
Respect: Employees, managers and leaders exercise consideration and courtesy for each other. They treat one another with dignity, and they take one another’s perspectives seriously. Consumer goods and enterprise software are high performers when it comes to this value and SAP is a standout.
Finessing the Big Nine
How can the Culture 500 tool help you when you’re searching for a job? Start experimenting. You’ll notice that for each of the Big Nine values, the tool’s algorithm calculates the percentage of reviews that mention each value for each company, plus the percentage of positive reviews each value garners. This enables you to see a snapshot of how frequently and positively current and past employees mention each of the Big Nine values for each company.
The Culture 500 Tool is your customized glimpse into company culture for some of the US’s key companies. Use it to isolate and compare the values that foster job fit for you.
The culture That Fits Your Life
Thinking about corporate culture, and evaluating these cultural dimensions, position you to be a more informed candidate.