Recruiters tend to focus on how to examine a candidate to find the perfect match for the job. After all, that’s how they’re paid. When it’s your future and you are the candidate, how should you examine a company to determine whether it will be a perfect fit?
Let’s look at the other side of the coin and talk about finding the right company, the right culture and the right job. We might want to include finding the right manager, too.
Most interviews offer a chance for the interviewee to ask questions, and it usually comes at the end of the interview. “So, do you have any questions?” A candidate should never, ever say “No.”
A series of questions should be top of mind, and at least one of them will go unanswered during the interview. Here are five questions that will surely tell you a lot about your prospective new company.
Five Questions to Help You Determine Culture Fit and Company Environment
• Describe a typical work week here at Acme Widgets and what someone in this position might be doing?
This is a question that should be asked to multiple interviewers. Contrasting the opinions of two or three folks will give a clear impression of the job. Major variances in opinions would be a big red flag. It could mean the division is disorganized and, most assuredly, signal that communication within the group is suspect.
• How long have you been here, and what keeps you here?
Again, this question should be posed to multiple interviewers. This puts the interviewer into a mode of feeling good about the situation. Because you’re asking for his opinion, you’re creating a value proposition that comes from your interest in him. Look for variances in opinions and statements that can be informative about the environment.
• Tell me how Acme recognizes performance, especially top performance.
After the basic needs are satisfied, a professional finds happiness in the esoteric qualities of a job and a company. A culture that strives to give recognition to its people is one that realizes that in the hierarchy of needs, money and benefits fall to the bottom and things such as recognition and the opportunity to contribute rise to the top. If the company has a well-defined recognition plan, it has probably considered the environmental issues that make for a happy place to work.
• What is your idea of a great boss? Is your boss one of them?
This is a very telling question to ask the person who would be your immediate supervisor. It is most likely that this person will give you the definition of the way he or she manages. The second question will tell you how happy he or she is, and will alert you as to whether he or she might be gone shortly. If that is the case, you might find that the replacement is not the kind of person to whom you would enjoy reporting.
• Some folks like to work long hours and around-the-clock to finish a task. Some like a more structured day, starting in the morning and going home at quitting time. Which person fits best in this environment?
Obviously, this one will tell you about the flexibility of the company. If the second example fits best and you represent the first example, this might not be the place for you. Most importantly, if the interviewer indicates that the company is flexible enough to support both kinds of people, you know it will be flexible to your needs. Be prepared to have the table turned and be asked, “Which one are you?”
Remember, there is some risk in asking these questions. Some managers may take them as signs that you are too inquisitive for their group. If so, you probably don’t want to work there anyway.
The key is to never fail to ask questions. If you aren’t given the opportunity, then ask for it. This is the best chance you have to really find out what it will be like to work for a company and whether you really want to work there!
I’d like to hear any other great questions that might be used by some of you out there. Got any?