How to Assess the Company Culture During Your Job Interview

How to Assess the Company Culture During Your Job Interview

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Traditionally, job interviews are how a company determines whether you’re a suitable candidate for the job. As time and hiring methods have evolved, candidates are now given the chances to assess the potential employer as well. So the next time you walk past the office corridors or sit through your job interview, ask yourself these vital questions:

From your observation, what makes you desire to work here?

Can you see yourself part of the company?

Here’s how you can convince yourself:

First Impression

How was the interview invitation extended? Did they give you enough notice to clear your plans for the job interview or did they rush you for an answer? Normally, the initial calls and written communications are tell-tale signs and indications about your potential employer’s level of professionalism, EQ and more.

Read through their correspondence copy like their emails and view their official company website or social media accounts to get an idea of their working style, company outlook, and practices. Do they have some of their employees featured on their materials? Or do they prefer to be cold, straightforward, and formal?

Next, while you’re at your interview, observe their overall office vibe. Is it dead silent or do you pick up on light chatter and laughter from the employees? A warm and inspiring office will usually be filled with some noise and colours. An open-plan seating arrangement and framed team photos or awards hung up on the walls also shows that it’s a company that appreciates some form of togetherness and community.

You can also judge the company by the way you were greeted in as a candidate. If you were welcomed with a smile, a well-prepared form to fill in your particulars, and a glass of water to quench your thirst, you are possibly in good hands. If it’s the total opposite, you might want to give it a second thought; especially if the staff there greeted you coldly. Many a time, poor handling of a job interview session by the HR department starts with the way they treat you in person upon the first meeting. Your overall experience matters and trusting your gut feelings is a dependable thing in this situation.

It was unprofessional from the start!

“I applied to a renowned company as a senior marketing executive before but to my dismay, the interview session was handled horribly. It started from the call, whereby their hiring manager was pushing me to use my remaining annual leave from my current job to come for the interview. She then gave a sarcastic remark about me not being interested if I didn’t do as she told me to. I felt like it wasn’t her place to say such a thing and needless to say, I turned down the job offer after the final interview!” – Megan Lee*, 31, Assistant Sales and Marketing Manager

Related: Design an Onboarding Process That Helps Increase Employee Retention

Respect is Key

As a candidate you will be expected to turn up on time, if not earlier. The expectation shouldn’t be any different for the company you’re interested in joining. The interviewer should be prepared to meet you and not waste your time by making you wait or dragging the interview beyond your appointment window.

Take notice of how they respond to their colleagues, especially the receptionist who let you in – are they polite or crass? And observe how well-groomed they look. Through these small hints such as their outward appearance; you can tell that they have self-respect for themselves and the company image hence, will have respect for a co-worker.

Response Style and Questions to Ask

Body language is important. Eye contact and a positive stance sans folded arms and a frown explain a great deal in a nutshell. Notice how well they respond to you, to see whether they’re genuinely interested to hear what you have to say or not. When prompted to ask questions in return, ask questions that will benefit you such as:

  • What kind of opportunities do you provide for career advancements or personal development?
  • What’s the dress code like for the company?
  • What’s the turnover like for the company?
  • What makes you proud to be in this company?
  • Do you allow your employees to work remotely?
  • What’s the latest company achievement and how was it celebrated?

By asking these type of questions back, you’ll show that you care about what is happening in the company even before joining plus get some inside scoop via your own initiative.

Related: Leadership Talks: Hire for Culture Fit

In conclusion, the next time you attend a job interview which wraps up with the hiring manager asking you, ‘So, do you have any questions for us?’, don’t be afraid to ask. Be inquisitive and get an inkling about what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t wait until you’ve said yes to the job to find out about the company culture and regretting your decision.

*Name has been changed in the interest of privacy

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