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How to Vet the ‘Culture Fit’ at a Startup

This article is by Lucia Villar, Head of Personal Loans.

So you’ve decided to join a tech startup…how do you make sure it is the right fit? Culture can be one of the most important factors considered when deciding which startup to join.

The wrong culture fit can leave you unable to do your best work and eventually grow sour with your new employer. It is worth spending the time to do real diligence and avoid headaches in the future. Whereas larger companies often have a very clearly defined company culture, smaller startups are often still developing theirs and may require a little more research on your part.  

Here are three tips to help you make the right choice:

The Founders

Spend a lot of time getting to know the founders. Company culture starts from the top and founders really do set the tone for how employees treat each other and what kind of behavior is rewarded.

Meet the executive team. Founders are also the ones that typically hire the first key employees and set the tone the most important qualities in an employee.

Go deep in your diligence

Examine the benefits packages. Determine what the company offers now and/or what they plan to do in the future (e.g., maternity/paternity leave). You want to see that the company you are working for has thought these things through and prioritizes them. Sometimes small startups don’t have these policies in place yet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t intend to.

Find out what the diversity philosophy is. Diversity is crucial to creating an optimal company culture. Companies that have well thought through diversity plans are often transparent with their own diversity metrics and the goals they have in place. AirBnB is one great example of this.

Check out the snacks in the cafeteria. If all you see are beer and Cheetos, that could be a bad sign.

Straight to the source

Speak to a lot of employees (ideally past and present) of the company and get their opinion on what the culture is like.

Visit sites like Glassdoor, which are a great resource for getting the real scoop on a company.

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PS Earnest is hiring! We have great, healthy snacks 😉

Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.