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Company Culture: 5 Big “Little” Things to Consider When Interviewing

Career Advice |

When thinking about career and job decisions, we know it’s important to factor in company culture. Companies and candidates are finally beginning to realize just how important culture can be. Culture is the approach to work, the mission of the company, the way people behave, and much more.

Of course, I completely believe that all those things are incredibly important. What I also believe is that even the little things can make a big impact.

This thought was sparked by a recent discussion I had in the Levo League offices about dress code.  In my first job, I had to wear slacks, heels, a nice (but never trendy) top, and a blazer to work every day.  I felt so “blah” it wasn’t even funny! Honestly, it seems small, but walking out the door every morning not feeling good about what I was wearing made an impact on my day. I definitely didn’t select my next job based on dress code, but when I was in the interview process, I couldn’t help thinking, “Wow, how great would it be to wear what they’re all wearing every day?”

Based on moving from the finance industry to the fashion industry, here are a few other “small” culture-related things that I’ve noticed made a big difference to me (and might to you, too).

Desk/Cubicle Layout

Who would ever think this is something that would matter! My first few years in banking, I had this fake wood and gray cubicle with high walls, which gave a lot of privacy. Then I got moved into a shared office. When I moved industries, everyone’s desk was completely open (read: absolutely no walls) and you could hear and see everything everyone else was doing. While I liked that this promoted collaboration (plus-one for open layout) it also was a lot less private (a minus on some days). Depending on what you prefer, you may feel happier in one layout versus another, so be sure to take a look around when you’re interviewing to do some layout research.

Dress Code

Yup, as stated above, this made a huge difference to me. Do you like to dress very formal or casual? What helps you do your best work? What do you want to be wearing in those 100-degree summer days on the subway? One great part of having a more relaxed dress code was being able to easily go out after work without worrying about stopping home first. It’s a small thing, but it’s made work-life balance a little bit easier, and that was a perk.

Perks in the Office

We all know the Googles of the world will do everything from feeding you to doing your dry cleaning. Not all companies will do those things and that’s okay. However, take a look at the perks as you’re deciding on an offer. Maybe that product discount or free lunch will make every day just a little better for you. It’s all personal, but spend a few minutes thinking about the perks that matter to you (and don’t place any weight on the ones that really don’t).

The Hours

We all know we’re going to have to work very hard in whatever job we choose. I definitely wouldn’t say you should choose the job that has the least hours of work. However, there are a few small things related to the time you put in at work that you should pay attention to.

Are you able to work remotely when it’s necessary, or will you always need to be in the office? Are you staying late just for “face time” or because it will make an impact? Are the hours fixed or flexible? One of my jobs was very flexible in terms of leaving the office for a few hours. I never took advantage of this privilege in an irresponsible way, but if I had an important errand, it was good to know I could go take care of it without it being looked down upon.

The “Vibe”

I know it’s ambiguous, but I don’t have a better way to describe this attribute. Essentially, you want to pay attention to the overall energy as you spend time in the office in the interview process. Is it upbeat? Is it serious? Is it silly? There’s no “right vibe” for all companies across the board, but there is a “right vibe” for you personally. Think about what type of energy your personality would contribute to the most.

Hopefully this will inspire you to look at “the little things” about company culture and not just the big ones. Sometimes, the smallest things can make the biggest impact.

What’s most important to you with company culture? Tell us in the comments!

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Topics

career 2 advice company culture

11 Comments

I think the vibe has a lot to do with the people on the team. Most of us know some people who we really vibe with and some with whom we don't. I think it's the same way with a workplace.

3y

Agree on a lot of these, particularly the dress code and the vibe. Little things that make a whole lot of difference in making your work place fun and inspiring.

3y
Carly Heitlinger

The vibe. So perfect. It's difficult to pinpoint... but when it feels right, it feels right!

3y

It's so funny how much some "little" things can make the biggest difference!

3y

Completely agree with office layout - I found having my own office isolating and am much happier back in open plan land!

3y

I agree! There's so much more to consider than salary.

3y

So helpful for a college student, like myself, who will soon be looking for a career!

3y

So helpful! I am in the interview process now and this is the perfect read. Thank you!

3y

Great article, Jaime! I recently chose to move to a startup, and the culture was a huge factor in my decision - including the fact that it was an all-female environment.

One of the first things our founders asked me was 'what is are your goals and dreams, and how can we help you make that happen?' I knew I was in the right place!

3y

This reminds me of a quote from my college coach "the little things matter...they add up" and they do, especially when the people you work with and the company you work for take up a large percentage of your day.

3y

This is all great advice! If I've learned anything in my years in the working world, it's that flexibility is super important to me.

3y
The Prepary

Jaime is the Founder of The Prepary, an online resource providing honest and accessible job search advice based on her past experience in the recruiting world. She also works with job seekers one-on-one to help them land their dream job or internship. Prior to starting The Prepary, Jaime worked as a Recruiter in both the Fashion & Finance industries and got her BA in Psychology from NYU.