When evaluating a potential career with any company, it is important to not only consider the practical factors, but take into account the personal implications as well. While a company may be a great fit in terms of salary, benefits, location etc. , those things are ultimately only  a small portion of the elements that will determine whether or not you will be happy in the position long-term. In order to be happy and fulfilled on a personal level, you need a company culture that is compatible with your own personality and priorities.  It can be difficult to evaluate whether or not a company will be a good culture fit, but there are a few ways of evaluating a fit.

Get to know your prospective bosses

It can be difficult to evaluate how you mesh with a potential boss or supervisor when your only encounters are in a professional capacity. Often, this setting isn’t conducive to really getting to know someone, their management style, or their personality. However, there are some universal characteristics that make for an effective leader. Throughout the interview, keep an eye out for evidence of these characteristics. One of the most important is communication. It can be extremely helpful to ask difficult questions in the interview. This is both so that you can get a better idea of what the company is like, and to see how your potential bosses respond, and if they do so effectively. Their ability to communicate to you about the position is a good indicator that good communication will take place in your future working relationship.

Peek at their Public Presence

If you have not had the opportunity to meet your potential employers, often they have a public social media presence that can be very telling. It is difficult to hide personality in social, and if it is devoid of personality, that may be a cause for concern? Are employees engaging with the company? Are they proud to promote events, or recommend job openings to their friends? Employee advocacy is a very telling sign in evaluating a company’s culture. Often employees are a company’s biggest critics, but if they are on the opposite end of the spectrum, they have good reason to be. Often, public and company events are documented on social media and this digital footprint can give you a good indication of the type of activities you could anticipate should you become employed there.

Understand Your Emotional IQ and Motivations

Emotional intelligence has become more and more prominent in hiring decisions.  Not only does it have a bearing on job performance, but also on job satisfaction. If you are a highly empathetic person, it can be difficult to be in a place where your coworkers are constantly distraught or overstressed. This type of environment often exists in startup companies with a large amount of fluctuation, restructuring and general chaos. If you have a hard time dealing with change, then this is probably not the environment for you. However, if you thrive under pressure and enjoy a dynamic work environment, this situation might be ideal. It is important to understand yourself and how you feed off of others and your environment and factor this in when evaluating a job prospect.

Knowing what motivates you is important for both your personal and professional satisfaction. Those that are more intrinsically motivated might appreciate a challenge, while those that are more extrinsically or financially motivated might be frustrated by additional responsibilities that they are not being fairly compensated for. While the former personality might be looking for more interpersonal interaction, opportunities to try new things and learn new skills, the latter might be more focused on things like compensation, benefits, and other monetary perks. It is important to know which camp you fall in and whether your potential employer will set you up to be successful in your pursuits.

Bottom line is it is important to understand your own priorities and as much about the company, and the people you will be working with, as possible. Ask tough questions, do your homework, read reviews and be honest with yourself. Much like a relationship, red flags at the beginning are likely to turn into problems later on. Don’t fall into the trap of talking yourself into a bad culture fit just because it’s convenient at the time.