Background checks on new applicants are an assumed part of any hiring process. Some estimates even place the number of employers that use one or more types of employment background screenings as high as 95%. A background screening can help an employer determine one part of a candidates’ organizational fit, a compilation of factors to determine if a candidate shares the same values and ideals as the organization.
You may be asking yourself; shouldn’t organizational fit go both ways? The answer is yes!
Like a background check on a person, an organization-based background check will not tell you everything, but it can help you decide if the fit feels right. The background check on your prospective employer won’t go through a local or state regulatory agency, rather, the results will be from a combination of available sources of information.
Here are some of the most common paths to collect information as you decide what your next job will be:
The Company’s Website and Social Media
An important question to ask yourself is: Do a company’s mission and core beliefs align with your own? You need to evaluate your personal goals so know what you are looking for in the right organization.
Most companies will have a public website that includes an About Us section. This section should cover the core of the company’s mission and impact on its community. Sometimes a history of the company can be a valuable resource to understand where a company has come from and what trajectory they may be moving towards in the future.
Social media is another great place to get more information about the company and its mission. Oftentimes companies will share details about their culture and goals. This can give a clearer insight into what it is like in the weeds of an organization.
Online Articles About The Company
Search about the company online and dive into the News Section.
- What is written about the company?
- Do they engage in causes that you care about?
- Are the articles positive in your mind or do they raise concerns?
- What does the negative news say about the organization?
- Is there evidence they took steps to correct any concerning reports?
Informational Interviews / Your Network Connections
You can find a lot of general information online, but you also want more specific information about a company — after all, this could be your home away from home for many years. An informational interview is when you speak to someone who works at an organization about their career path and/or their experience for that employer. Not only is this is a great way for you to learn what has been successful for others, but it also presents a great way to learn about what working for an organization is really like.
- Is the environment generally relaxed?
- Does it move at a fast pace and require you to think on your feet?
- Are departments more independent of each other or is there a lot of collaboration?
There is no right or wrong working style but ask yourself if it seems right for you. And don’t forget about LinkedIn and your network connections. Today’s job fields are so interconnected that you may already know someone who has experience with that employer. This information can come with an added layer of trust because of your past connections with that source.
Who hasn’t looked over reviews before going to a restaurant or purchasing a product? Many websites now offer the ability to rate organizations based on the experience of consumers and/or employees. However, you should consider the number of reviews and specifically those of accounts verified by the site to ensure you are getting a fair and honest evaluation of the organization. You should also give weight to the percentage related to the number. For example, a 4.5 average rating across 200 reviews may be more reliable than a 4.9 average across 20 reviews.
Once again, this should be a great starting point for you to consider asking other important questions about the company.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The BBB is a non-governmental accrediting agency that evaluates whether businesses operate in a trustworthy manner and make good faith efforts to resolve any complaints filed with the BBB. While not every business or organization will be listed with the BBB, those that are can provide additional insight into how the organization’s practices and complaint resolutions.
There isn’t one single correct organizational environment or culture. Different businesses will appeal to different employees. What matters most is finding the environment that suits you best. Just as your employer will look deeper into how you fit into the organization, conducting a background check on them may help you make that final choice about where your next job will be.
Brendan Barbieri has worked for Herzing University for over ten years. In that time, he has served as a career coach, internship specialist, and now works in compliance.