The Culture Test: 15 Great Questions to Ask About Company Culture

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At the end of a job interview, you’re usually given the opportunity to ask questions of your interviewer to learn more about the company. The most common questions you might ask for this part of this interview are about general job details like work hours, pay, and requirements of the role, right?

Sure, makes a lot of sense.

But if you’re like most modern career-minded job candidates, it’s very likely that you care a lot about not only whether the job a good fit for you, but also the company, the team and the culture as a whole. If that’s the case, there are other types of questions that you should be asking – those questions are the ones that specifically help you get real insight on the company’s culture.

What is company culture?

According to Terrance Deal and Allen Kennedy in their book Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, it’s “the way we do things around here.” While every company defines culture in their own way, most agree that culture is about you, the people who make up the company. It’s about how the company makes you feel about the work you do and support you in that work. Do they promote innovation? Do they allow room for error? Do they prioritize your health and wellness and rest? These can all be considered aspects of company culture.

Why should culture matter to you? Because it’s like the best insight that you can get into how the job is really going to feel every day. And that’s important, right?

Questions about Culture

Keep in mind that the person interviewing you is also an employee of the company who has lots of insight about what it’s really like to work there. Ask them the right questions and they can be a hugely valuable resource for you. This list of questions is a great starting point; choose a handful that are best aligned with your motivators:

  1. Why do you like working here and what motivates you to come to work every day?

  2. How do people at the company unwind and recharge after working hard?

  3. How does the organization promote the professional growth and development of its employees?

  4. How are employees here recognized for their results?

  5. How does the company address failure? And success?

  6. Is there a lot of collaboration within teams and across different ones?

  7. How do managers and employees share feedback?

  8. Is there a lot of room for working independently or autonomously?

  9. What are the most common causes of conflict in the organization and how is it resolved?

  10. How does the company celebrate successes and achievements?

  11. What activities does the company offer to promote team building?

  12. What measures does the company take to give back to their local communities and those in need?

  13. What are some things the company has done to accommodate employees with families?

  14. What kind of people seem to be the most successful here?

  15. How does the organization promote work-life balance for its employees?

Choose the questions that address the aspects that mean the most to you, whether that’s the company’s efforts to do good in the world or their interest in supporting work-life balance for parents. Adjust your questions based on the interviewer’s answers to previous questions, i.e. if they’ve been with the company just three weeks you may ask what attracted them to the role or whether the role has been what they expected it to be rather than why they’ve stayed for as long as they have.

Finally, write your questions down in advance; it’s common to experience a moment of forgetfulness during a high-stakes interview. Coming prepared demonstrates your interest in the role, organization, and preparedness and ensures you leave with what you really need to know: whether you’ll like working here or not.

 

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