The first weeks on a job can be exciting, nerve-wracking, educational, fun, scary — and eye opening. You quickly learn who’s in charge (and who thinks they should be), how the company operates and how employees are treated. Unfortunately, you may discover you’re working in Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” instead of Dollywood. How can you learn about a workplace before you accept an offer — and avoid the misstep in the first place? The quickest way to learn if the job will be a good culture fit is to do some investigating.

1. Ask your own questions

During your interview, you’ll be talking with someone who already works for the company. Take advantage of this opportunity to get some first-hand knowledge by talking about their experience. 

What are questions to ask before accepting a job offer? Ones that will tell you how that person fits in with the company and how you might feel working there.

  • What do you like about the culture? 
  • What is the environment like?
  • Do you like working here? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel you can share your ideas freely?
  • How long have you worked here?

2. Get live feedback

If you felt comfortable in the interview, it’s a good start to understanding the culture. You don’t need to rely solely on the interviewer’s take, though. In fact, the more people you can chat with, the more rounded your information will be. That doesn’t mean polling all 157 employees — just talking to two or three will give you some different perspectives. Ask similar questions when you meet people during an office tour or while waiting for your interview.

3. Visit professional sites

If you don’t meet people in person, try contacting current employees using LinkedIn. Reach out, tell them you are considering working for the company and ask about their impressions and experience. Ask specific questions such as “What should I know before signing an offer?” Most people would be willing to point out why they love a company — or don’t — and any potential red flags.

4. Read online reviews

How do you research a company before accepting an offer? Sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed allow current and former employees to rank their workplace. In addition, larger companies likely have mentions on discussion board forums such as Reddit and Quora. If something concerns you, find out more during your interview. For example, if a review says the pay is notoriously low, ask how the company determines salaries.

5. Take note

Whether in a review of a workplace or in a personal response, pay attention to the words used. Are the adjectives positive? Words that indicate a supportive or thriving business might include:

  • Challenging
  • Friendly
  • Collaborative
  • Flexible
  • Supportive
  • Rewarding
  • Motivating
  • Comfortable

Pay attention to the words used in the job listing, as well. On KSL Jobs, for example, employers can write a description of what they value. You might see phrases such as “time off for volunteering,” “dynamic culture,” “work as a team” and even “we have fun.”

6. Self evaluate

Finally, when you interview with a company, you’ll have your own gut reactions. Pay attention to your impressions and evaluate your feelings. 

  • How were you treated in the interview process?
  • Were people you met friendly?
  • Did you feel comfortable?
  • How were people in the office interacting?
  • Did it feel like a place you would fit in well?

According to a survey by CareerArc, 82% of people applying for a job consider the company’s reputation and brand before they even apply. Because ultimately, you’ll feel most comfortable working in a place that shares your values.

Search for companies that offer the salary, perks and culture you’re seeking on KSL Jobs. You’ll find other helpful tips — from preparing for the interview to negotiating your entry-level salary — on our Resources page.