If the Job Fits

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Click through for five questions from TheLadders you should ask a potential employer.

The job description seems like it was written for you. The pay is right, the commute easy on your nerves, you even like your new boss, and the coffee machine is near your desk. But is the new job a good cultural fit? How can you even tell?

Assessing the cultural fit of a company goes well beyond whether you are about the same age as your co-workers or share interests with your managers. It includes the way the company runs day to day as well as grander elements such as the ethical guidance of the leadership or whether your role fits into the strategic vision.

If you are eager to make a move, you might be willfully ignoring signs that these elements of the job will make it hard for you to succeed — or at the very least hard to enjoy it, warned Stephanie Daniel, vice president and group program manager at Keystone Associates in Boston, where she advises professionals in career transition.

“Cultural fit is one of the most important factors you can consider when looking for a new position,” she said. “Culture really defines the personality of the organization. It’s not just about whether employees are nice to one another. It’s about examining the company’s values and whether the values of the company match your own personal values as a potential employee.”

Daniel counsels clients to think long term when they are considering a job offer. “If you are taking a job solely because it will pay the bills, even though you know it’s not a good fit, it might be OK for the first few months, but it will take its toll,” she said. “I can’t tell someone to take or not take a job, but I do tell them it’s important to consider how a job will affect your life.”

How do you know if your potential new employer is a good fit? Do your research. Review materials publicly available online and in the media; use your network to find out as much as possible about the company; and when you visit the office for an interview, observe everything from the layout of the office to the age of the equipment. Something as simple as whether people have photos of their families on their desks could tell you whether you would fit in, Daniel said.

TheLadders suggests that when you sit down for an interview, you ask the following key questions to understand how you fit into the fabric of the existing company and whether a position in this company will allow you to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

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