Imagine you’ve just received a job offer. Congratulations! If you’re like most people, the first question on your mind is, “Wait? How do I know if I’ll like this job?” All you have is an offer letter and a job description with policies and procedures. How can you understand an organization’s culture from the outside? My favorite definition of culture comes from Airbnb’s Brian Chesky: “Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion.”
According to MIT culture scholar Edgar Schein, there are three ways to understand culture: 1) Artifacts—which are visible things like what people wear to work; 2) Beliefs and values—which are more invisible, like valuing consensus when making decisions; and 3) Basic underlying assumptions, which are usually unconscious, like a belief that you should hire people like yourself. So how can you find these out?