How To Ask About Company Culture Without Using The Words… Company Culture 🤔

By Siew Ching

You know you want the answer to this so here’s how to set it up during an interview.

Company culture can range from how people dress in the office to how a good job is rewarded. It can be about how birthdays are celebrated to how the top management addresses its staff. Why is it important to know a company’s culture before you join them? Because when it fits with your own values, then you will be happier, more motivated and inspired, and therefore more likely to be successful at the job.

So how do you ask about a company’s culture without using the words company culture during an interview? You will definitely get more information about culture than the standard question, “Can you tell me more about your company culture?” Some questions can be directed to the hiring manager itself to get his or her own take… while some questions can be more generic about the company. But getting a perspective from both views will give you a better insight on the company you are interested in, making it easier for you to make a decision should you be offered a job there or to compare between two offers.

Here are the questions you can ask:

What’s your management style?
At some stage of your interview (depending on how far you go), you will meet your supervisor. To find out if you can click with this person or not, it’s important to know how he or she works with the team. Ask this question to get a feel of what your potential manager’s working style is like. The answer will give you an insight into whether you can work together.

Of course your maybe boss won’t say I am someone who will breathe down your neck if you don’t meet my expectations (no one is that honest). But listen for cue words and read between the lines. If he says, “I am very particular about details and expect my team to be the same”, you could be dealing with someone who micromanages and doesn’t particularly like change or innovation. This will give you a better picture of what you will be dealing with if you say yes to the job and working under that said manager.

What kind of access do employees have to training and learning?
Here’s how you would decipher the answer to this: If the answer is “Oh we have plenty of learning opportunities within our company where we actively engage training partners to provide our employees with a structured programme”, it clearly means that the company is all about growth and learning, and has it all planned out for their people. But if the answer is “Oh we strongly encourage our talent to upskill themselves and provide incentives if they seek these opportunities,” it shows that while the company values learning and growth, it’s up to you to take the initiative and the company may agree to subside it.

What is the work-life balance like?
There’s no harm in asking this; it won’t make you look like someone who’s not committed to your job wholeheartedly! Instead, asking this gives you a clear view on whether the company values and respects its people enough to give them the required time off… or if the company doesn’t really care about your own time and requires you to give your all to it. So if the answer mentions coming in early, staying late, expected to put in some extra hours during weekends for crazy deadlines, that tells you a lot about a company’s culture and the kind of work-life balance you can expect. You can also be more direct with your question by asking if staff is expected to answer emails or calls after office hours.

What makes you proud to work at this company?
This is a personal question and the answer will give you the best insight into the company’s culture. If the answer is mostly positive about how the company is a valued asset, then you know the culture is more of a nurturing environment. But if the answer is all about how it’s a great opportunity to be working in this company, it may seem like the company trumps people and if you do get the chance to work here, you better show your worth or you’re on your way out. Read between the lines to get a feel of how the other person describes her experience working with the company.

Is there a flexible work arrangement?
Are you hoping to work remotely or find a job that fits your schedule? Do you have some personal commitments that may require you to work out of office hours on certain days? Find out how the company feels about flexi hours and you’ll get an idea if the environment will fit your needs.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

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