Interviewing? 5 Questions you should ask about a company's work culture.

You may have probably heard "This company has a horrible culture" in many discussions or Glassdoor reviews. So, what is a company culture and how can you assess a company's work culture before you decide to work there?

According to Forbes, "a Company culture is about the shared norms, values, attitudes and practices that form the collective identity of your company. At its best, it’s the invisible glue that binds your team and sets the stage for the narratives your employees play out daily, contributing to your overall organizational story."

One of the key factors in determining if you will enjoy working in your new job is the company's culture. An organization that is supportive, offers recognition and has a positive environment, can lead to improved productivity and growth. However, it is not always possible to gauge work culture from the outside.

While in most cases, you only get to know of the culture of a company after working there, you can increase the odds of working for a great company culture by doing some homework before you sign on the dotted line.

When applying to a new job, research about the culture of the organization. This will not only inform your cover letter and resume but can also help with understanding their culture. Typically, platforms like Glassdoor and LinkedIn can provide some insights about work culture of a particular company. However, you will have a better chance at understanding the work culture through direct conversation with an employee.

Your first personal interview with the company is often a great opportunity for this. It can give you a fair idea of what your future will look like in the company.

Here are five interview questions that will give you a glimpse of the company's work culture:

1. Can you describe the core values that drive decision making and behavior within the teams?

Core values determine a company's ethical framework. As a candidate it is important that the company's core values align with your personal vales. Core values of an organization are excellent predictors of your future and success as an employee. These will be the values that essentially drive decision-making and behavior at macro and micro levels.

For example, imagine that work-life balance is one of your core value. The company thrives on fast-paced, always-on work environment. There are multiple expectations surrounding extended work hours, fast turnaround etc. If you thrive on achieving work-life balance, it can be stressful for you to fit in such an environment. Probe deeper into what the expectations are for after hours or weekend work.

2. What are some ways you are promoting employee well-being and work-life balance?

The answer to this question will help you understand if you can expect support and flexibility in your role. For example, in a situation where you will need to leave early or prioritize some tasks over others, a supportive and flexible employer will trust you to fulfil your responsibilities irrespective of where you work from or when you complete the tasks as long as you meet any deadlines, and your work is well done.

Some ways companies promote employee well-being are through mental health resources, health-related work benefits etc. You can also ask what steps managers take to ensure a stress-free work environment. This can include support groups, brainstorming sessions, one-one meetings, training, and upskilling.

3. How was a recent conflict in your team handled?

Managing conflicts constructively is important. Disagreements, mismatching opinions, and concerns are common in a team and create conflict. If conflicts are addressed constructively by reasoning and discussion, it can lead to healthy team dynamics. Organizations that avoid conflict resolution in a healthy way give rise to resentment among teams.

Although avoiding conflicts seems reasonable, it can create a superficial sense of agreeable atmosphere. This does not help to provide a psychologically and emotionally safe working environment. Working in this type of an environment can be detrimental to one's mental health in the long term.

4. What are some ways that the organization fosters inclusion and belonging within the teams?

Diversity & inclusion have become an important part of successful organizations. According to a research by Harvard Business Review, when employees feel like they belong, companies reap substantial bottom-line benefits. These include over 56% improved job performance, 50% lower turnover risk and 75% fewer employee sick days.

Fostering a feeling of inclusion and belonging is not just important for organizational success. At an employee level, feeling like you belong can boost your productivity, job satisfaction, mental health and job performance. It can be especially important if you belong to a marginalized group of society.

In this answer you’ll want to hear about their policy, hiring practices and programs and training. They might support local community groups or events that support a marginalized group or health issue. Also, check out the careers page on their website. What are they most proud of? What do they celebrate?

5. What kind of support does the company offer during times of change or uncertainty?

A company's response to change is a great indicator of its culture. Change can be challenging for employees and an organization needs to handle it with compassion and strategy. Companies that implement concrete strategies to prioritize employee well-being especially though drastic changes, cultivate a resilient workforce. This is because they support and commit to their employee well-being especially in harder times.

While it may be impossible for a company to predict its response to an economic downturn or lag in business, their answer should give you insight into how positive or negative change was managed in the past.

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that cultural alignment between employees and employers leads to greater contentment, productivity, and overall success. By asking the above five questions, you can predict what to expect in your daily life as an employee.

One of the best ways to make sure you are working with a good culture fit is working with an expert in the job market. For more than 46 years, Agilus has served our candidate and employer networks, connecting job seekers with meaningful opportunities. We place nearly 10,000 job seekers in roles every year in Engineering, Technology, Professional/Office, and Light Industrial roles.

Check out our open roles on our job boardcreate a job alert or build a profile so any of our more than 100 recruitment professionals can find you quickly when a role becomes available. Please follow us on LinkedInFacebookInstagram and Twitter for job seeking tips and new roles.


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