The interview process is for both parties to determine if the role and the company are a match made in heaven. While the position and the hiring manager are critically important for your short-term happiness at a company, jiving with the company’s culture will be able to comfort you on the annoying days… not to mention, provide you with more options in the long-term.
9 Must-Ask Questions to Determine Cultural Fit
1. How long have you been at the company? Longevity isn’t as important as an indicator these days as it has been in the past, but it will provide you with the person’s own knowledge about the company culture. If they have only been there one year or less, chances are they are still figuring out the good, the bad, and the ugly for themselves. So their input may not be as valuable as someone who is in the 3 – 5+ years range.
2. Why is this position open? Understanding why there is a vacancy is critically important for any role you are applying for. It will tell you if the company is in a growing phase, if they promote internally, if they lost a good employee, and so on. Ask, and look for any signs of evasion or stumbling when they answer – this is a red flag.
3. What is your current employee turnover rate? This one is best asked to an HR professional, although they may not be able to tell you. Either way, dig until you get this answered. Look for anything above 10-15% to be a huge flashing sign to step away from the opportunity. I have worked somewhere that the turnover rate within a year was close to 60% – um, what does that tell you? No one likes working there, which means you likely wouldn’t either.
4. What does your benefit plan include – not just medical, but other benefits as well? Companies who truly care about their employees, invest in their employees. Plain and simple. If their medical plans seem outrageous, that means they aren’t contributing as much as they can. If they don’t have supplemental benefits – think: 401k, optional life insurance “options,” employee assistance programs; they are doing the bare minimum.
5. What is your time off policy, and how do employees use it? I tricked you – that’s two questions rolled into one. But we have all been at companies that give you time off, maybe even with generous plans, but expect you to stay connected or worse, don’t allow you to take your days. Ask for this before you accept an offer – there is nothing more telling than a company understanding that employees need some time to decompress.
6. What are the “office hours?” Most companies do not insist on a strict 9 am – 5pm schedule, but you never know. If you need some flexibility in your hours, or have enjoyed those sorts of freedoms in the past, transitioning back into a strict “punch-in and punch-out” environment, will be difficult. (Side note – this could also be a sign of ridiculous levels of micro-management. Beware).
7. How many of your employees telecommute or have flex-schedules? Whether or not you want some flexibility, the company’s perspective on this is very telling. Not only will it set clear expectations in the beginning, but can also tell you how progressive they are; potential long-term scalability questions/concerns; and their desire to accommodate YOU, the employee.
8. What type of employee events and networks do you have? Nothing earth shattering here, but the amount of time and energy they commit to investing in fun and/or meaningful activities for their employees, is a clear indication of if they put their money where their mouth is.
9. Would you say the company values… (insert a value that’s important to you)? Some examples include: collaboration, innovation, independent thought, autonomy, cross-department teams, and so on. This is a great way to frame-up the items that you care about and would want to see from your future employer. Ask for specifics and examples – and be weary if they refer to their “core values” or “their mission” as a response. Those things are fine and dandy, but don’t tend to present themselves to the everyday work environment/worker-bees.
What questions have you asked to determine if the company matches your needs?