How to Evaluate Workplace Culture Before Accepting a Job Offer 

Question:

I’m currently interviewing for a new legal position at two law firms. Each job sounds exciting, complements my interests and offers an attractive salary. But I want to work for an organization where I feel engaged and valued. How can I determine which firm is the better fit? 

Answer:

You’re smart to look for an employer that would be a good match for your work style, expectations and career goals. Before you accept any job offer, take a closer look at the employer’s organizational culture. Here are some areas to consider: 
 

1. Retention. Does the firm have a high employee attrition rate, or do people tend to stay on and advance through the ranks? An employer’s turnover, especially for the position you’re applying for, can say a lot about its workplace culture and how happy people are in their jobs.  
 

2. Work-life balance. An attractive salary is only one aspect of the compensation package. You also need to find out whether the firm values employees’ lives outside of the office. How many hours are in a typical workday, for example, and how much paid time off would you get? No matter the size of your paycheck, you won’t be happy going into the office on weekends or taking business calls in the evening. 

 

3. Alternative work arrangements. A long commute can be wearying. Add to that the stress of rush hour traffic or crowded trains and buses, and in time you might come to dread going into the office. More employers recognize this as a reason for staff turnover and are offering the possibility of flexible scheduling or telecommuting. 

 

4. Career path. Look for an organization that offers employees the opportunity to grow in their current positions and advance their careers. Mentorship programs, training and professional development, and reimbursement for conferences and certification courses are all signs of a supportive employer. 

 

5. Vibe. At the end of your next job interview, ask for a tour. Consider the office setup, energy level and amount of noise. Try to get a feel for how happy or stressed people are. Then picture yourself working in that environment for the next few years. 
 

Do your research and ask lots of questions. But most importantly, listen to your instincts. After the interview process, you’ll have a much better sense of whether this is the right workplace for you.