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Job Hunting and Career Planning — Q&A with the Career Coach

"Q&A with the Career Coach” is a series of articles featuring questions from readers and answers from 42-year Human Resources veteran and career coach Cliff Montgomery. Future questions can be submitted to him at his address below:

Q: In your last article, you said that cultural fit was an important selection criteria for an employee evaluating a new company. Can a common culture also be a problem?

A: Like employees, most companies are also looking for candidates who are a good cultural fit in order to make sure a new hire will share the company’s goals and values. At the same time, many interviewers are looking for candidates who remind them of themselves or make them feel good about themselves.

But this can develop into a problem when all employees look, think and act alike, and also for employees who care about diversity and different points of view. This can also become an issue in the area of problem solving. If everyone thinks alike, it’s very difficult to come up with creative solutions to problems.
From a leadership perspective, this can also be problematic when you find yourself surrounded by “yes people” who always agree with you, even when you’re wrong.
Lastly, if the culture is too similar to your own, it may be difficult to learn anything new relative to your own style and behavior. So, while it is important to carefully assess the culture of the company you wish to join, try to assess whether this culture might be too “common.”
Q: As the result of our current health crisis, many of us have been asked to work from home. Do you have any suggestions on how to be more efficient in this work environment?
A: In this current health emergency, this is an excellent question, and I have several suggestions. The first is to do your best to keep your normal routine. If you normally get up at a certain time of day, keep doing it and start your work day when you normally would.
Do your best to keep your workspace separate from your personal space, and if you have a room with a door you can close, so much the better. Believe it or not, I also suggest dressing up a bit as it will put you in a working mindset for the day ahead.
Try to keep your work area as organized as possible, purging anything that is not work related. Treat your day as you normally would with breaks, lunch and quitting time. Set reasonable ground rules for the people you live with making sure they know there are times when you can’t be disturbed.
Do your best to stay connected with your colleagues, trying to maintain the relationships you had in the office as much as possible and be sure to keep your boss advised of what you’re doing and accomplishing. If you are asked to participate in a video conference, make sure you’re heard and involved.
This might also be a good time to look for any training opportunities you could take advantage of, and my last piece of advice would be to stay as positive as possible as this crisis will end one day.
Send your questions to Clifford E Montgomery, CPC, executive and career coach in New Hope, PA. He can be reached at 908-209-1642 or at His website is