When you’re interviewing for a job, the manager isn’t looking for the smartest applicant - they’re looking for the perfect fit. And what determines the perfect fit? Company culture.
What is company culture, then? It’s anything that defines the atmosphere of an office or business including the working hours, the dress code, the way managers and employees interact with one another - anything. At its essence, though, company culture is really about trust. As Tony James, President and COO of Blackstone, once offered in an interview with OneWire, finding someone who fits your company culture means finding someone you can rely on. It means finding someone who you know will make operations smoother, and not cause problems. You want to be that person - because if you are, it means you’re going to get hired.
“I have no patience for internal politics and I have no patience for negativity,” James explained in the interview. “I want culture carriers, I want people who are team oriented. I want people who put the firm first. People for whom it’s never about them, or their [specific] interests.”
Tom Murphy, the Co-Founder of Crestview, also emphasizes the importance of company culture, and its role in job interviews. In his interview with OneWire, he explained that it’s near-impossible to perfectly demonstrate your talent during an interview - but showing that you’re a well-adjusted person who can fit into the culture? That’s much easier - and will have you seeing much more success.
“It’s almost impossible to walk into a room and impress everyone so singularly, with analysis, insight, math, technical analysis,” Murphy explained. “But you can walk into a room and impress on people that you are a good guy. That you can communicate complicated ideas in a simple way. That you are someone who’s focused on [the company,] not yourself.”
So how can you show that you will fit into the company culture?
Every company has its own culture, and the more contacts you have, the better chance you’ll have to prepare yourself for wherever you’re interviewing.
If you know anyone who works at a company you’re applying to, you should reach out to them before you go in for your interview. If they tell you working hours at the company are very rigid, be sure to show up to the interview early. If they tell you the dress code is relaxed, don’t come in wearing a three-piece suit. And if they tell you management is looking for someone who’s easy to work with, don’t be afraid to crack a joke or two during the interview. In short, find out what kind of person the company is looking to hire - and then show up to your interview as that person.
As Ernest Scalamandre - the highly successful founder of AC Investment Management - has told us, every company has its own particular culture. They can vary wildly, as well. This means you’ve got to do your homework - you’ve got to research the culture, so that you can successfully represent it.
“Some personalities lend themselves really well to a big corporate culture, like Citigroup or something,” he explained to us. “There’s a certain sort of skill set that [employment would] entail and mandate. Frankly, at this company, which is very entrepreneurial, it’s a completely separate skill set. It requires self-starters, there’s a lot of transparency, you really can’t hide behind anything.”
Whatever the culture may be at the companies you’re applying to, you can trust that if you fit in, you’re going to get your fair chance at the job. That’s why it’s just as important to dress for a job interview properly and show up on time as it is to meet the educational and working requirements of the job itself – that is why company culture matters.