25 Questions That Will Uncover a Company’s True Culture

Questions to Uncover Company CultureThe interview is going great; you sense an offer is coming. But something doesn’t feel right… you’re just not sure this company is the right fit for you.

Of course, before you can make any decisions, you need to know what the company’s culture really is… what really goes on inside a worker’s mind in this environment. But you feel you really can’t disclose your reservations without coming off as prying, dispassionate, or skeptical.

So you pray the smiling faces on their site aren’t stock photos and that you’ll end up fitting in like a glove… only to find out two weeks later your boss is an egotistical suit monkey and your coworkers make calls while keeping Monster.com open in an incognito window.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can ask questions. To fully uncover that company’s true culture, you MUST be strong enough to ask all the right discovery questions… like these:

  1. How much do you work with your colleagues?
  2. What team accomplishments make you proud?
  3. Are there special activities to promote teamwork?
  4. Who in the company do you spend time with outside of work? What do you do?
  5. Who in the company do you expect to be part of your professional network over time?
  6. Who are your mentors? Do leaders continuously engage with you or coach you?
  7. Do employees tend to know what’s going on with the company, excluding confidential issues?
  8. Do people say what they think? Are the comfortable sharing their opinions even if others are offended?
  9. Are people careful about what they say and how they say it?
  10. How would I be successful here?
  11. What determines performance evaluations?
  12. How is feedback communicated?
  13. Do supervisors have an open-door policy?
  14. What are your day-to-day policies on things like dress code, remote work, flexible work hours.
  15. If you could describe your corporate culture in three words what would you say?
  16. If you were giving a tour of the office, what stops would you make?
  17. If the local paper were running a four-page article about your company’s culture, what would be impossible not to include?
  18. What’s the best part about working in this environment that I won’t be able to see from just a walk around the office?
  19. Can I speak with one of your new hires? A company veteran?
  20. What is something an employee might do here that would be perceived as violating the company’s culture?
  21. What are a couple of misconceptions people have about the company?
  22. Can you give me some examples how employees here show work life balance?
  23. What kinds of professional development do employees have access to?
  24. What kinds of people excel here?
  25. What kind of rewards other than a paycheck does the company provide?

Of course, the last thing you want to do is turn your interview into an interrogation that puts ‘Law and Order’ to shame. So ahead of time pick three to four questions that would reveal the things about the company that would be the biggest deal breakers if they were way off. And remember to frame the questions in a positive light. For example, instead of asking, “Does your company reward their employees with anything other than a paycheck?” …ask “What rewards outside of a paycheck does the company offer?”

You have every right to discover the company’s real culture. Dive in. Ask these questions. Done right, the chances are pretty good that recruiter will think even more highly of your preparation, authenticity and preparation!


About the Author: Bryce Christiansen is the Marketing Coordinator for MyCareertopia. He is a driving force in helping build the company’s presence online through the website, social media, and Web 2.0. Bryce has a dedicated background in Marketing and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU. In his free time he likes to read, watch movies, play guitar, help others, and spend time with friends and family. Connect with Bryce on Twitter!

Bryce thanks Bill Barnett, Jonathan Davis, and Lori Cappozzi for their interview question contributions!



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