It’s always important to get a sense of an organization’s culture during the interview. Culture fit can mean the difference between looking forward to Monday morning and dreading it.
That being said, culture fit does not translate to: “Looking exactly like the current employees.” You’re a strong culture fit if your beliefs and values are cohesive with the company’s beliefs and values.
Wondering how to assess this? Try these four questions.
1. “How do you see (specific value) from (the culture code, the mission statement, the company manifesto) playing out each day?”
Voicing your belief is one thing—practicing it is another. To see whether the organization follows through, ask this question. If the hiring manager can immediately tell you two or three ways they’ve witnessed their coworkers exercising their beliefs, you know they’re committed.
2. “Is there a personality type that tends to succeed at (company)?”
Certain profiles thrive at every company. If you don’t mesh well with this personality type, you’ll be unhappy (and potentially not as successful as you’d like). Let’s say the hiring manager says, “Actually, we’ve noticed people who are comfortable working on their own are usually super successful.”
If you prefer teamwork, you might want to work somewhere more collaborative.
3. “What’s an important aspect of (company’s) culture?”
This open-ended question gives the hiring manager a chance to tell you anything they deem is important. It helps you learn information you may not have anticipated, simply because you didn’t know about it.
To give you an idea, they might reply, “We really celebrate intelligent failure and encourage our team to take plenty of risks.” If you work similarly, this is great news — and you never would have learned it if you hadn’t asked this question.
4. “What’s your company’s most popular tradition?”
Every organization has traditions—from the silly to the serious. The most beloved tradition will give you valuable insight into what employees value and/or enjoy doing.
Suppose the hiring manager responds, “People love Taco Tuesday, when one department prepares tacos for the rest of the team. The department rotates every time, so the tacos always taste different, and it’s fun to hang out with your coworkers and catch up.”
The takeaways: This office is social, and work relationships are important.
A very different answer would be: “Our most popular tradition is probably Hack Night. Everyone stays up the entire night working on something innovative, whether that’s a new feature, a new design, or a new experience.”
The takeaways: Employees are passionate about the product. If you’re not technical, you might feel less involved.
Depending on your personality and preferences, either company could be an amazing fit. Try to picture yourself participating in the tradition your interviewer offers. If you’d probably love it, that’s a great sign.
Knowledge is power. To identify what an organization’s culture is like—and more importantly, whether it’s right for you—ask these questions.
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