5 questions on company culture you need to ask during an interview

5 questions on company culture you need to ask during an interview

Company culture is becoming a key factor for most of us when considering a job offer, possibly ranking in equal importance with financial perks and career progression.

Entrepreneur.com asserts that this is particularly relevant for millenials, as they’ve grown up in a world of financial prosperity and rapid technological advancements. Their expectations of a career are vastly different from the older generation, with higher priorities on company values, meaning, community and culture.

We’re here to share 5 essential questions on company culture you need to ask at your next interview. The trick to keeping the questions casual is to start with general questions to break the ice, before digging in deeper, keeping it light and objective the whole time.

1. Values

Lead with “What are the company’s corporate values?”

This will tell you what matters most to them. Are they progressive in outlook, or conservative? Do they prioritise their employees’ well being, or are they primarily driven by profit margins? If they are unable to answer the question, or give vague answers, prompt them with this follow-up question: “What are the top 3 focus areas for the organisation at the moment?”

Their answer to that will tell you what drives the organisation.

2. Environment

Lead with “How is the office setup? Is it an open plan office?“, and follow up with “What’s the energy level in the office on an ordinary work day?”

Their response to these questions will give you a glimpse of their typical working environment. If you like peace and quiet while you’re working but the company favours an energetic, vibrant workforce, that’s probably not the right environment for you.

3. Organisation Structure

Lead with “How many people are involved in the approval of my daily tasks?”

From there, you can probe a bit more about the general decision-making process to suss out how bureaucratic or open the organisation structure is.

4. Expectations

Lead with “What are the key deliverables for my job?” and go on to questions such as “What is the company’s policy on flexi-hours or remote working (or any other aspect)?”

If you have or are planning to have children in the near future, this will be a good time to find out how the company feels about employees with kids and what parental benefits they offer (e.g. paternity/maternity leave, family medical coverage, etc).

5. Leadership & Management

This is probably one of the trickiest topics to broach at an interview. You don’t want to come off as critical when you haven’t even landed the gig. On the other hand, if you pose the question in an intelligent manner, it might score you bonus points with the interviewer.

We would suggest leading with “How much autonomy will I have in my job?” This will tell you whether your direct manager will be breathing down your neck, and pave the way for you to probe further with questions such as “Is there much interaction between employees and the CEO or senior management?”

The kind of questions you should ask really depends on what’s important to you, and the kind of company culture that’s right for you, but these are 5 essential questions to start with. Don’t forget that it’s not just what they say in response, but how they say it that will tell you what you need to know.

Observe their body language when you pose your questions, and when they answer. Often our facial expressions and posture will change with our thought process, revealing more than what our words say.

Try it out and let us know how it goes. Have other questions to add to the list? Share them with us in the comments section below. 


Further reading: 

Creating a resume with no work experience

Is MNC the only way to go?

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