It seems like most employers are talking about cultural fit these days. Studies suggest culture fit “can improve employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity and retention.” Culture is the unwritten environment of a company. It’s mission and vision and “how we do things.” Companies work hard to improve culture because they understand that employees seek out good cultures while running away from poor ones.
As a job seeker, culture matters. You know there will be a question or two about cultural fit. How can you prepare for these questions while also screening the employer to ensure the kind of culture they’re trying to build is also the right fit for you?
Why Do Companies Hire for Culture?
Companies screen candidates to determine their cultural impact on an organization. Their goal is to ensure that your behaviors, beliefs, and values align with the current cultural status quo. Employers want to avoid what LinkedIn says can be a “sea of sameness, as organizations bring on new employees who will think, act and perform similarly to everyone else.”
However, the best cultures embrace differences as part of their culture. Companies know that diverse organizations are more productive and innovative. So, the idea is not to hire cookie-cutter employees but to find people that can get along. Employees that get along avoid wasting any energy or personal or team conflicts.
You, as the candidate, are looking for the right company culture. You can screen a hiring team for cultural fit, but also prepare for their interview questions around cultural fit with a little research.
How to Figure Out a Company's Culture Before the Interview
Researching a company’s culture before the job interview can help you:
- Know if the job is a good or bad fit.
- Prepare for interview questions.
But how can you understand company culture if you aren’t living in it? Try these four steps:
- Do your research. Many companies talk about their culture on their careers page. Learn their values and mission. Be alert to hidden meanings behind the content. For example, “a fast-paced culture” could be good—or bad—depending on whether employees are stressed and overworked, or they just have a lot going on.
- What do employees say about the company? Watch employee testimonials. Look on sites like Glassdoor to see what current and former employees say.
- Make asking about culture a recurring interview question. Track what different interviewers have to say when you ask that question.
- Also, pay attention to how you were treated during the interview. Were you respected? How did the interview feel? Did any of your interactions make you uncomfortable?
Once you’ve done your due diligence, it’s time to move on to the interview.
Preparing for the Company Culture Question
Some of the interview questions surrounding company culture may include:
- How friendly are you with your coworkers?
- What is it about our company that interest you?
- How do you like to be managed?
- If we asked your coworker to describe you, what would they say?
- How do you handle stress?
The general rule of thumb on any interview question is:
- Take a deep breath and think through your response before answering.
- Ask for clarification if you need to.
- Be honest—because you don’t want to work in a place where you don’t fit in, do you?
Want to Learn More About Company Culture?
How can you figure out company culture when much of it is intangible? One thing you can do is work closely with a recruiting firm like People Plus. We understand the unique cultures of the clients we serve. That helps our candidates figure out the right fit. Call on us to find out more.