Become A CPA

Become A CPA

Is your potential employer a good cultural fit?

by Monette Anderson, WSCPA Academic Relations Coordinator | Oct 20, 2015
dancing businessmanForbes has estimated that 89% of job failures are due to poor cultural fit. This is a buzz word that is being used a lot lately, but what does it really mean? Techtarget.com defines cultural fit as the likelihood that a job candidate will be able to conform and adapt to the core values and collective behaviors that make up an organization. The outlook for accounting and finance jobs continues to remain steady, with the Association of Colleges and Employers ranking it No. 2 in the 2015 Job Outlook Report. Meanwhile, the CPA designation continues to be one of the most highly sought standards for companies seeking accounting professionals. This puts you as a candidate in the driver’s seat to ensure you find the position that offers you the opportunity to contribute faster, perform better and stay with the organization longer—all of which are attributed as the benefits of finding good cultural fit. Here are a few tips for finding your corporate soul-mate.

Make like Socrates and Know Thyself: Ask some gleaning questions

  • What type of culture will you thrive in? Where have you thrived in the past? Think back to group projects, sports teams, or volunteer work? Did you work better in teams or solo, with close supervision or lots of freedom?
  • What values are you drawn to?
  • Was there a time you worked with or for an organization that wasn’t a good fit? Why was it a bad fit? What made you unhappy?
  • Think about a job you’ve applied to or firm you’re interested in. Can you articulate the culture based on what you’ve seen?

Leave No Stone Unturned: Do your homework

  • What does your potential employer’s online presence look like? Social media sites are a good place to start your search. Their Facebook page will tell you how they interact with their audience or clients. Sites like Glassdoor or salary.com should be taken with a grain of salt but can be helpful if you look for commonalities that may tune you in to what’s going on at the company.
  • Who works there? Typing in the company on LinkedIn may show you who works there and what backgrounds and skills they may have in common. Does the company tend to hire ex-military? Do their employees all seem to be marathon runners or have side businesses? These would be strong indications of a high performance culture, or a desire for entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Step away from the computer and spend some time out of the office networking. You may choose to reach out to some of your LinkedIn contacts for informational interviews (see tips here) or go to a networking event where you can find employees in a casual environment. You can certainly talk to employees at recruiting fairs and interviews (see some sample questions below) but catching employees in a relaxed setting may get you a more candid response.

Look Deeper: Stay in-tune to subtle clues and feedback

  • When you are in the office interviewing or touring, look at the walls and employee break areas. Do they have photos of the office kickball team or have signups for on-site yoga classes, or do they fill the walls with awards and accolades?
  • Clue into the pace and tools of the office: Are employees moving about frantically, or taking coffee breaks together? What types of technology are they using?
  • Do they ask you questions aimed at finding out of if you are a fit? This may show how in-tune they are to hiring strategically. If they have extra processes in place as part of the interview such as special assessments or personality tests, it’s a great indicator that they know what they are looking for.

Turn the Tables: Don’t pass up the opportunity to ask questions

  • Does your company have set corporate values?
  • How many hours a week do you spend at work?
  • What would employees in my position say is their most favorite and least favorite thing about this job?
  • With whom would I be working to perform the functions of my job? Can you tell me about them?

Finally, be yourself. Be honest about your strengths (and your weaknesses). Whether you rejected an offer because of intuition about cultural fit, or were passed up after a stellar interview, let it go and move on to prospects that are a better match. No one wants to end up at a job where they spend 8 hours a day trying to fit into a mismatched culture. Find a good fit though, and it’s more likely that you will discover greater job satisfaction, be more committed, identify with company values, and perform to your potential on the job.

Monette AndersonMonette Anderson is the WSCPA Academic Relations Coordinator. You can reach her at manderson@wscpa.org
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