Corporate Culture Questions To Ask During Interviews
By Mark Swartz
Even if you’re a perfect match for a job posting, you might not be a good fit.
Being qualified doesn’t ensure you’ll mesh with the company’s culture. That corporate culture is made up of several elements. The way employees are treated, for instance. Adherence to (or ignoring of) ethical standards. Whether the pace is driven and unforgiving, or steadier with room to make some errors.
Use your job interview to learn more about the mood and tone of that workplace. Ask a number of targeted questions to each person that interviews you.
In Your Opinion, What’s It Like To Work Here?
This is a good opening inquiry about the operating culture. It’s general enough not to raise hackles, yet it moves the focus where you want it. Expect their first reply to sound a lot like their website or Mission/Vision statement. That’s o.k., you’re just getting started.
What Traits Do The Most Successful Employees Here Have?
Still a fairly general question. You want to compare the attributes of top performers with your own work style and personality. If they respond with clichés (e.g. we value creativity, perseverance and team spirit), consider probing a bit. Ask how innovation is encouraged and rewarded. What about if you thrive on getting things done outside the box?
What Qualities Did You See In My Application That Suggest I Might Fit In Well?
Turn the assessment around to get their opinion of you. Most likely they thought you had the necessary skills and experience. You’re looking for feedback on their perceptions of your other attributes. Hopefully the qualities they highlight indicate what they value at this workplace.
For You, What Are The Three Best Things About Working Here?
At this point you’re soliciting their personal opinions. Ideally they’ll share some enlightening tidbits. Maybe they like the flexible work hours, or how managers really strive to support staff. Be wary if they have trouble coming up quickly with three positives.
Would You Describe The Pace As Driven And Cutthroat Or Motivated And Cooperative?
Matching your work style to the employer’s expectations is important. If you dislike multitasking or rushing, you’ll be unhappy where quantity of output is worth more than quality. Be honest with yourself – and with the interviewers too. Don’t fool yourself into an unsuitable environment.
Can I Earn A Promotion Without Being A Workaholic?
Balance may be something you’re seeking. You could ask directly what measures are in place to avoid burning out their employees. Except that might signal you’re unwilling to put in extra hours when necessary. Using the word “workaholic” allows the interviewer leeway. They can answer something like you don’t have be here day and night, but there are lots of people who stay beyond the posted hours. That should give you a clue.
After Working Hard, How Does The Company Unwind?
Try to get a sense of how stress is lessened. Do they arrange after-work celebrations? Do they give paid days off following exceptionally demanding periods? Some companies bring in on-site masseuses for an afternoon. The point is that all work and no play makes for a dull employer.
What’s Acceptable In Terms Of Dress Code?
Some people like to wear casual clothes all the time. Or you may have visible tattoos and piercings. Avoid getting rejected without knowing if what you wore to the interview caused trouble. A formal workplace is great if you’re into it. It’s a prison if not.
Do Your Research Before And After
There’s only so much reality you can glean at an interview. Everyone tends to be on their best behaviour. And few people will be honest enough to reveal if the culture is gloomy or immoral.
That’s why you should also research the employer extensively. What your investigation reveals, plus the answers you get from interviewers, along with your gut feel, will produce a more accurate judgement of this company’s culture.