Looking for a new job can be a big, if not daunting, task and it’s all too easy to get swept up in what a potential employer thinks of you. But it’s important to remember that looking for the right role is a two-way street. It’s just as important to find a company that you like as it is to find a company that wants you.

Before you consider a new job, think carefully about the type of company you’ll be working for, as it could make all the difference to your future happiness and success. Here are some tips to make that decision easier.

Know the culture

Workplace culture is something that has steadily evolved over the years, with more companies placing an emphasis on work-life balance and wellbeing. But when you’re looking for a job, it’s important to know what kind of environment you think will make you feel most at home. Do you work better in a loud, informal place or do you prefer a quieter or more corporate set-up?

Before you look at potential workplaces, you need to define what motivates and incentivises you in a job and have a clear idea of what kind of culture would both inspire you and keep you satisfied.

Once you know what kind of workplace you’re looking for, there are several ways to work out whether a company meets your needs; meeting behaviour, interaction among colleagues, the way employees dress and the office layout.

All of those factors will give you a good idea of the company culture, the type of person it attracts and whether you would be a good fit.

Management style

You should never overlook the management style of a company. You need to consider how fair or demanding performance management is, and what level of supervision is available. It’s also helpful to recognise whether you work better in a hands-on environment or if you flourish when left to your own devices.

The way you’re given feedback is absolutely key. All employees want interaction with their manager to be private, respectful and focused on improvement and development, rather than negative and embarrassing. Knowing how you’re informed of your successes and challenges will be a strong indicator on if the agency is right for you.

Vision and purpose

When you’re weighing up potential new workplaces, it’s important to consider the values and vision of the overall organisation and whether you could be a part of it.

It’s more than just the pay packet and benefits. You need to know if your views, and even morals, are aligned with the overall business. Agencies can often deal with a wide range of interesting and sometimes controversial clients, so knowing this will help to tell whether it’s the right place for you. The ideal role will fill you with a sense of pride and give you purpose in your day – ultimately making you more successful and driven in the business.

Then at the interview, ask for examples of how the company carries out its mission statement, look at their client list and see it matches up with what you want to achieve in the role. You can learn a lot from these answers and if anything doesn’t feel quite right, make sure you probe further.

Ask the questions and do the research

A job interview can be a challenge. You’ve only got a set amount of time to find out whether you’re a good match. The easiest way to do that is ask questions that will give you a better insight into the company and the people who work there.

Things like “How long have you been with the company?” are a great starting point. If you find that all the people you meet have only been there a short amount of time, it could be a warning sign. High turnover could be a sign of low pay, long hours, lack of opportunity or poor management and these red flags need to be raised early on.

Another key question is “What was the department’s biggest challenge last year and what did you learn from it?” Everyone thinks of an interview as a chance to grill the candidate on their accomplishments and problem-solving, but you should be making sure you’re finding out how a potential employer deals with challenges. Be sure to listen out to who or what gets blamed for failure. Like it or not, company politics play a huge role in overall job satisfaction and it’s important to know from the outset how decisions are made and conflicts resolved.

But that’s only part of the job. Making sure you’ve done enough background research on the company by looking at Glassdoor or exploring clients is an important part of deciding whether the place is right for you. It makes sense, you wouldn’t go into the meeting without knowing a bit about the person and company first.

An interview also gives you the perfect chance to hear how much importance is placed on building skills and development from the horse’s mouth. This could have a long-term impact on your career progression so understanding this is key. Knowing where they stand on mentorship and training will help you decide if it’s a position with a future or not.

Looking for a new job is an undoubtedly exciting time, with the promise of new challenges and opportunities. But it’s also crucial to find a company that suits your needs, values and working style. Ultimately, feeling out of place or uncomfortable could impact your performance and confidence in the long run so it always pays to do your homework.

Aliya Vigor-Robertson

Aliya Vigor-Robertson


Co-founder, JourneyHR