Hi all - Wanted to get some perspective / insight from some of the more senior / tenured WSO members on something I have been trying to figure out for a while.
Come this summer I'll be rolling off of my associate program at an upper middle market PE shop (household name). I'm planning to apply R2 to H/S/W/B, though am not 100% sure I'll go to b-school (will leave this discussion for another topic) and may just look at joining another firm / skipping MBA. In any case, at some point I will ultimately need to make a decision about what firm to join for the "long-haul", and I would like a not-insignificant portion of that decision to be driven by fit and culture.
This, however, leads my to my issue: I'm not entirely sure how I can diligence this topic from the outside based on a few interviews with my potential future employers. Through my 1.5 years of being a PE associate I've observed one can learn a lot from just a few short hours (whether it be an MP, dinner, diligence session, etc.), however there is also so much you can never learn until you are in the seat.
My current firm is very political, cut-throat, and grind-y, but there is certainly no way an outside observer could guess that based on meeting the team or even asking the question point-blank. For this reason, and because I want to make sure I "put down roots" in an environment in which I can succeed, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice or strategies for assessing fit and diligencing culture from the outside BEFORE accepting an offer and being in the seat.
My initial thought would be I should just try to network and do some reference checks with former employees, though there is just so much misinformation and exaggeration, as well as potentially some sour grapes with the former employees (they left for a reason, right?). My second thought, and one I have heard from others, is "Just move to a smaller shop - those dynamics don't exist at smaller shops" - I think this notion is wildly misinformed and not realistic whatsoever. In my opinion, size of firm has no bearing on fit and culture... happy to be told I'm wrong though!
EDIT: Typed this a few times and it keeps getting lost so hoping this makes it through... Also interested in hearing how I could figure this info out in the short time frame between getting an offer and needing to make a decision. I'm not entirely sure how post-MBA / post-2&Out recruiting works, but I would expect it is pretty similar to pre-MBA recruiting in that you are kind of at the mercy of what the recruiters show you / who is hiring. I would expect this dynamic prevents you from doing a lot of pre-diligence work and specifically target a certain firm or set of firms, forcing you to react to what is available in a short period of time.
Can certainly provide any additional info on how I am thinking about things if needed.