How to Determine if an Engineering Company is a Culture Fit
When you’re interviewing for a new engineering position, it’s crucial to examine all aspects of the job in order to evaluate whether it’s really right for you. Though job description and compensation are obviously important, there are two other key factors to consider: company culture and work environment. Remember: if you’re comfortable with the prevailing attitudes, beliefs, and practices in the workplace, you’re much more likely to be happy and perform well in your job.
Before making up your mind to accept any offer, determine what aspects about company culture and work environment matter most to you. Then, based on your preferences, assess whether this company is a culture fit. You can use the Internet to research the employer’s values, history, and reputation. In addition, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager questions about company culture during the interview.
Consider the following aspects:
- Corporate values: As a professional engineer, you most likely have some core values regarding aspects such as the protection of public welfare, environmental conservation, workplace diversity, and the ethical practice of your discipline. If you’re a member of a professional association, you might even be expected to adhere to some of those principles. In order to feel entirely committed to a position, it’s helpful if your employer shares some of your values. Read the company’s mission statement and history on its website to gain an understanding of its values. Additionally, you could ask the hiring manager what he or she feels are the company’s most important values and accomplishments.
- Company reputation: Investigating a company’s reputation enables engineers to get a better sense of what an employer stands for and whether that matches their own ideals. Considering that clients of companies involved in engineering activities are logically averse to risk, how your employer is regarded by the industry, as well as general society, will impact your professional life and track record. Research the company’s business reputation in trade publications and news articles, as well as online via social media. It’s also advisable to go to Glassdoor to learn what previous and current employees say about the organization as an employer.
- Management/leadership style: It’s helpful to know what the management style of your direct supervisor is—authoritative, directive, participative, or some other style? How does that correspond with your reporting preferences?
- Work environment: Your work environment is incredibly important to your overall happiness and productivity. Determine whether you’ll be using cutting-edge technology; whether you’ll be working in a cube or open-plan layout; what the accepted dress code is; and whether the general atmosphere is formal or casual. Ask the hiring manager questions such as, “When are the busiest times of year?” to find out about hours and work-life balance.
- Level of teamwork: Since the majority of engineering work is project based, it’s important to find out if you’ll be working in cross-functional teams or independently. How does that align with your preferences?
- Opportunity to work with experts: To build your reputation in your specific field of engineering, you’ll most likely want to work with recognized experts. Find out if you’ll have opportunities to collaborate with top minds, as well as whether you’ll be able to enhance your own authority by means of publications, speaking engagements, intellectual property development, and patent applications. In order to gain a concrete impression of the types and amounts of opportunities for you to enhance your reputation, ask about upcoming projects and events, and enquire what your role could be. You could also ask how engineers who are currently employed in this division or on this project are building their professional reputations.
- Project scope: Increasingly more engineers are involved with prominent, cross-border endeavors. Will you be working on large-scale, national, or even global engagements? What opportunities will you have to make an impact on high-profile projects?
- Next generation products: Many engineers aim to be on the cutting edge of new types of products. Find out if you’ll be working on the design, development, and construction of next generation products.
- Advancement: Career advancement is a crucial aspect when considering a position. Ask what kind of training and development programs the employer offers, as well as what career paths are available within the company.
If something’s important to you, it’s essential to find out about it before you make a decision to accept or decline a job. Use the points above to ask questions and initiate a dialogue; that way, you can gain a solid impression of a company’s culture and make an informed decision about whether it will be a good fit for you.