Q  What companies would you love to work for?

Q  What makes them stand out to you?

When thinking about these organisations, more often than not, it’s the company culture that initially attracted you, that unique combination of company values, working environment, approach to employee engagement and every other aspect of operations.

Most often implied, rather than expressly defined, company culture has many definitions. My favourite is a delightfully succinct definition, from Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy’s book Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, in which they define company culture as “the way we do things around here.”

As much as the role and responsibilities of a position may excite you, a good culture fit is also important, both for the company hiring, as well as for you, the job seeker.  Yes, you could well survive a bad fit in a company’s culture, but for how long…and why not be thriving elsewhere?

Here are some questions you can ask to determine company culture. Pick the ones that you feel most strongly about and bear in mind, that if you are to decide between two or more offers, ask the same questions across organizations so you can compare the responses.

  • How would you describe your corporate culture in five words?
  • What’s the best part of working here, that I wouldn’t be able to tell by reviewing your website or looking at your social media company pages?
  • How often are company meetings held?
  • Is there a team culture and, if so, how is it expressed?
  • What kind of employee achievements does the company recognize?
  • What kind of philanthropy does the company contribute to or participate it?
  • Are there opportunities for further training and education?
  • Describe the work-life balance of employees.
  • What makes you proud to work at this company?
  • How does the organization support professional development and career growth?
  • What skills and characteristics does the company value?
  • How do people from different departments interact?
  • How effectively does the company communicate to its employees?
  • What’s one thing you would change about the company if you could?
  • How would you describe “organizational politics” at the company?
  • When, and how, do people like to give and receive feedback?
  • What are some of the ways the company celebrates success?
  • How do you as a manager—or, if more appropriate, how does your manager—support and motivate your team?
  • What kind of flexible work arrangements do people have?

On another note, whilst waiting for your interview, or before you leave the office, take a good look around. Much can be learnt about company culture from:

  • Employees –How do they address each other? Do they acknowledge you? (I have a few clients, that when I’m seated in their Reception, every employee who walks will greet me. It screams volumes about their company’s culture…and all positive)
  • Office layout and what’s on the walls –open plan or closed doors? Relaxation/Pause areas? Is there a company mission and / or values statement on the wall? Photos up of a recent company gathering? Intern profiles or Employee Awards on show?

Make sure it’s not just a company where you can work, but a company that works for you.

By Beverley Hancock, Director Recruitment Division

UNMASKING COMPANY CULTURE – QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR INTERVIEWER

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