Six Questions You Can Ask to Reveal Company Culture

Keys to Finding the Company CultureCan you really know company culture before you take the job? I believe the answer is a resounding yes. However, it takes focused due diligence to uncover what you need to know.

You are a professional, and you want to do your best work. In order to do your best work, you need to find an organization where your values and strengths are embraced, not tolerated.

Finding the Company Culture Where You Can Thrive

Here is a partial list of questions that I have developed in collaboration with my career coaching clients to ask during job interviews. (And yes, this works!)

As an example, if a company has listed their values as “Team, Quality, Integrity and Innovation” on their website, try these questions:

  1. I read about your company values on your website. Can you tell me how each of these values is lived day to day when everyone is under deadline pressure?
  2. Can you tell me about a time when two values appeared to conflict, and how you navigated that conflict?
  3. What happens when teams start operating in silos, or when a team member does not share information?
  4. How is resounding success handled here, and how are mistakes handled here?
  5. How are standards for quality set, and how do we ensure those standards are met?
  6. Who sets the standard for recognizing innovation on your team?

It is important to modify these questions to suit the situation. For instance, with a different set of values, you can come up with similar, open-ended questions to learn more about how these people think and behave.

The timing of your questions is important as well. I recommend holding off on asking the tougher questions on culture until you have established positive rapport.

If you are not invited to ask questions, I encourage you to interject at an appropriate moment that you are interested in the position, and are hoping that time will be made for you to ask questions.

Take note of the responses you receive. Some may react negatively. If you are doing your part to be diplomatic and respectful, such responses could be a cue for you to move on to the next opportunity. Others will welcome such questions and you will find yourself in an engaging dialogue, and perhaps on your way to finding the culture where you can thrive.