I have encountered this situation in one way or another on three of
my last four jobs and I am wondering if there is a good way to see
it coming and to deal with it. The problem: a company culture that
involves a lot of drinking and hanging out after work. I’m a drafter. I
don’t mind staying late if there’s work to do. But I’m not into drinking;
I have responsibilities outside of work and the noise in a bar often
makes it very hard for me to carry on a conversation. (By the way
I have no problem ordering soda when my friends have beer.) This
probably hurt me on my last job. I got cut and I’m looking again
and I’m wondering if you have any ideas.
The Career Doctor responds:
You’ve found the hard way the importance of researching companies
while job-hunting. We usually talk about the importance of researching
a company for the job interview but it’s just as important to conduct
research to make sure there is a good fit between you and the employer.
If the cultural fit isn’t right as you have unfortunately discovered then
the job usually ends up not working out for the job-seeker.
What is corporate culture? At its most basic it’s described as the
personality of an organization or simply as “how things are done
around here.” It guides how employees think act and feel. Corporate
culture is a broad term used to define the unique personality or
character of a particular company or organization and includes
such elements as core values and beliefs corporate ethics and
rules of behavior.
How do you uncover the corporate culture of a potential employer?
The truth is that you will never really know the corporate culture until
you have worked at the company for a number of months but you
can get close to it through research and observation. Understanding
culture is a two-step process starting with research before the
interview and ending with observation at the interview.
Before the interview. While you are researching the company for
the interview spend some time searching for clues about the
company’s culture. Review the company’s annual report Website
and other materials. Some companies even discuss their corporate
culture on their Website (often in their career center section).
At the interview. Experts suggest arriving early to the interview –
unannounced if possible — and spend the time observing how current
employees interact with each other how they are dressed and their
level of courtesy and professionalism. If there is a meal involved
observe if the employees drink alcoholic beverages with their meals.
Ask questions about outside or after-work activities.
Learn lots more tips in my article published on Quintessential Careers:
Company’s Corporate Culture is a Critical Task for Job-Seekers.