Company culture: the questions you should ask during an interview to assess the company’s culture
We all know that a company’s culture is, quite possibly, one of the most important factors to consider when interviewing for a new job. Why? Well, as Forbes puts it, “Culture has many dimensions, including practices, symbols, norms, rituals, ceremonies, beliefs, and values.
Simply put, organizational culture can be defined as the patterns of thinking and behaving that are recognized mainly and espoused.”
Essentially, a company’s culture determines how they do things – particularly when it comes to core values around management styles and work-life balance. It’s little wonder, then, that finding a good “culture fit” means we’re more likely to not just succeed in our careers, but thrive in them, too.
So, how can you work out whether or not you’re a good culture fit for that new job? The easiest way is to ask. Because, yes, there are specific questions you can and should ask during an interview to check if the company’s culture is your perfect match.
Ask about employee support
Everyone likes to be managed differently, so it’s a good idea to figure out how a company engages and supports its employees.
To do this, we recommend asking the following questions:
When and how do people like to give and receive feedback?
What does success look like here?
What makes you proud to work at this company?
What are the attributes of a top performer on this team?
Look for leadership that listens
One of the most important elements of any job? Leadership that listens. Managers that, more specifically, know how best to encourage their employees, celebrate their successes, maintain open lines of communication, and cultivate mutual respect and support.
To that end, try asking questions like:
How do you present your team’s accomplishments?
How do you celebrate your successes?
How do you stay connected with coworkers while working from home?
Talk about problem-solving
It’s essential to try and gauge how the company deals with conflict and internal politics. What happens when a project doesn’t meet its targets? And how do they solve problems as a team?
To get an idea, try asking the following questions in your job interview:
Is risk-taking encouraged, and what happens when people fail?
What causes conflict? And how is conflict resolved?
How are big decisions made within the company? And who has the final call on making a decision?
Get a feel for the day-to-day
You know whether or not you prefer to work as part of a team or independently. You know if you love meetings or abhor them. And you know whether you’d prefer to work within set parameters/processes or if you prefer to set your own schedule. What you don’t know, though, is how the company you’re interviewing for prefers to get things done – so ask!
What does an average day look like for you here?
How do you acknowledge employee success?
How do employees keep up-to-date with decisions made elsewhere within the company?
Figure out if they look after their employees
Due to the nature of the working day, it’s likely that you will spend a great deal of time with your colleagues. You want, then, to make sure you’re working somewhere that values a great team dynamic, that looks after its employees, and that promotes from within. To do this, you need to tune into the clues being presented; is this a new role? Has the person you’re replacing been promoted into a new role? Or have they left the company entirely?
Try, then, to ask insightful questions during your interview such as:
Is this a new position?
What are the main challenges in this position?
What has your career path been like?
Get a feel for the team dynamic
Make sure you take the time to garner your interviewer’s perspectives about the culture, not just of the new team, but also the company. Ideally, you want to work somewhere that looks after its employees, so be sure to ask questions about employee learning and development, as well as any team-building activities. Because, from go-karting days to online gardening workshops, a company that values team building is sure to have a brilliant company culture.
Be sure, then, to ask the following questions:
How do you support and onboard new team members?
What habits and values promote teamwork and collaboration?
How do you encourage team bonding?
What sort of team-building activities do you put on for staff?
Finally, make sure their definition of a work-life balance matches yours
It’s important to find a career you love, but it’s just as important to find a career which empowers you to live your best life!
To get a feel for the company’s approach to work-life balance, try asking the following questions:
How do you like employees to schedule their days?
What does a good work-life balance look like to you?
What sort of personality types work best at this company?
Of course, it’s vital that you take the time to figure out your own workplace values ahead of your interview; you need to know what you want in order to figure out if you and the company you’re interviewing for are a good match.
And be sure to do your research, too; a lot of companies tend to share their workplace values on their websites nowadays, which should enable you to ask more specific and tailored questions – not to mention demonstrate that you’ve taken the time to prepare for your interview properly.
There isn’t a special formula to finding the best job for your but asking the right questions during your interview can definitely help you get a feel of a company’s culture and avoid teams that don’t align with your values.