Ask the Employer: How to Know if the Company Culture Fits Your Ambitions

How to Know if the Company Culture Fits Your Ambitions?

The job description is a match, location is great, and even the pay leaves a smile on your face. But, a voice inside of you keeps nagging “what is the day to day like?”, “will people like me?”, “will I like them?”, “how can I leave a mark?” Company culture may be the most important component for individual success within a company.

Though, to truly unravel what a company’s culture is like takes time as well as personal experience. On the other hand, a great way to get a grasp on what the culture supports, what the company encourages as well as what people hold close to their hearts is to ask the right questions during the interview process.

What is the Company Culture like?

A fairly simple question, which could be asked during the first interview round. The purpose of this question is to identify your interviewer’s response. See how quickly they respond, do they have trouble understanding what you are asking for? If so, it may mean the company does not put its people’s culture at the forefront, or simply that there is a disconnect between management and employees.

At the same time, if they answer with one word such as ‘entrepreneurial’, or ‘friendly’ try to ask for an example or two of what they mean or how the company demonstrates it in a daily work environment.

Having Your Star Employees in Mind… What traits characterise them most?

A significant part of company culture, goes to what is rewarded and valued in terms of professionalism and ambitiousness within the organization. By identifying these traits, you can have a clear idea of what it takes to propel yourself forward within the company, but more importantly what the culture supports as positive traits.

If an interviewer describes star employees as driven and self-starting for example, while your strengths lie in team work and complementing others- you may find it difficult to this type of culture.

What would you change in the company culture? 

Another variation of this question could be asked in the form of ‘in your opinion, what component is missing from your company’s culture that you would like to develop?’

Most times, the person answering the question will look at the situation from her/his own perspective. Thus, the response can give a great indication as to the biggest challenges when working in a specific company. It’s important to keep in mind that just as people; no company is perfect. Getting a head start on pressing issues and dynamics can certainly be a plus.




Could I meet the people I would be working with?

In most cases, while going through 2 or 3 rounds of interviews you will be introduced to some of your potential peers. Though, it is only to your benefit to ask if it is possible to get a cup of coffee or go to lunch with the team.

According to specialists, this shows that you are selective about the company you commit to while at the same time showing a personal interest in the company itself. When going through a recruitment process, don’t forget you are also there to evaluate the company and not only the other way around. Moreover, if it so happens and you connect with other employees; it could only score you extra positive points!

When and how do people like to give and receive feedback?

This is a crucial question in order to find out what team dynamics are like. A close team will inevitably have a constant and ongoing feedback loop; where people discuss work as well as life on daily basis in order to make the ones around them better for the whole team and not only business.

On the other hand, there are the companies which employ a more formal (many times formal) feedback system in place. In these instances, companies will have an annual review where the manager and employee sit to discuss progress. It is up to you to decide what fits you best, feedback is a significant part of career progression as well as company culture.

Ask personally specific questions

Don’t forget to ask about questions which relate to your work-life balance. If you would like to go to your child’s football match every Wednesday afternoon at 4, could you? Can you take an extended lunch break twice a week to put some work into your personal fitness? Can you take holidays on specific religious dates which do not coincide with the mainstream business calendar?

Asking doesn’t cost anything, the final decision whether the policies work for you or not is always yours.

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