Imagine, you just had an amazing interview - they asked all the questions you expected, you answered them without accidentally biting your tongue, and the interviewer seems nice. There’s still one nagging concern at the back of your head though — will I actually like working here?
What are the people like? Will I fit in? What’s the culture like?
We all want to find a workplace we can call home; our tribe. A lot of it depends on how their culture matches with ours. The end of the interview — “do you have any questions for us?” — is a great chance to figure out whether you’ll be a fit. Here are 5 questions you can ask to determine the culture of the team you’ll be joining.
1. Why have previous hires left the company?
The most common reason for people leaving or being let go isn’t a lack of ability, but an inability to fit into the culture of their team. This question is important since it allows you to figure out why others have left, and whether it might be related to something you value (or don’t value).
Finding out whether you’re a fit early on can alleviate a lot of problems in the future. Many founders mention that cultural fit is the main reason for hires leaving.
2. Can you define your company’s culture?
Most companies, startups included, have been focusing on explaining their culture so that people joining the company will be successful. HubSpot has a 128 slide culture code deck. Google has Googleyness. Zappos has 10 core values.
If the culture isn’t defined on their site, it’s important to ask since it’ll tell you a lot about what they value and how.
3. Who are your most successful hires and what are their qualities?
The opposite of the first question but it shows you what they value and and how they succeeded with the company.
This question also gives you a list of mentors to reach out to once you start at the company, since the people they list will have a similar background to you.
4. Where do you see me in 5 years?
This is a horrible question for employers to ask and there’s almost no good answer… so why not flip the table? But in all honesty, asking this question allows you to see whether there’s a good long-term fit.
Another thing you’ll be able to see is your career progression at the company, which is directly related to culture. There are many employers which are “work hard, play hard” while others are more focused on work-life balance.
5. Why did you join the company?
Asking why they joined (or started) the company can bring a lot of insight into their values and perceived values of the company.
What questions do you ask to determine cultural fit with a workplace? Let me know on Twitter (@sebfung).
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