In the first part of this article, we highlighted studies which show that new hires usually fail because of a cultural mismatch between employee and employer, and we outlined five great interview questions to reveal the corporate culture behind the mask, so employees could really get a feel for a company’s culture before joining.
In this the second part of this article, we’ll discuss five more interview questions to help you reveal the company culture behind the mask. As I said in the last article, you don’t need to ask each and every one of these questions, and you can feel free to alter the format of these questions to suit the situation. You may want to focus on questions pertaining to areas you are concerned about or areas that are especially important to you. I acknowledge that some of these questions are challenging, but that is necessary to get behind the brochure and reveal the company culture behind the mask.
1. How Do You Deal with an Employee Who Makes a Mistake?
With this question you are trying to understand whether the company is supportive or quick to blame employees. The most innovative and supportive cultures will tolerate certain types of mistakes and will have philosophies or approaches for handling them, e.g. “We are comfortable with people making mistakes as long as they learn from them,” or “Employees who push themselves out of their comfort zones may make mistakes, and that’s OK. We don’t tolerate carelessness or neglect.”
2. Would You Prefer Your Employees Play It Safe or Take a Risk?
This is a good way to assess the company’s appetite for taking risks, innovating, and moving beyond comfort zones. If you are conservative and want to work in a risk-averse culture, you’ll clearly favor employers who like it when employees operate within set parameters. If you like to innovate and try new things, you might want to choose a company that’s more comfortable with challenging the status quo.
3. Can You Describe Your Company Culture in Five Words?
With this question, you are trying to get a snapshot of the most essential and defining elements of the company culture. Ask this question of as many company representatives as possible, and see if you can spot any telling trends. The more often you hear the same concepts from different people, the more indicative and defining these concepts are likely to be.
4. What Is Your Favorite Part of the Company Culture?
Once again, you’ll want to ask this question of as many company representatives as possible and look for telling trends in their answers. If two or three people say the same thing, you can be more sure that you are really getting down to the true defining essence of the company culture. If employees struggle to answer this question, then you’d have to be very concerned about whether or not the company culture were toxic.
5. What Is the Most Challenging Aspect of the Company Culture?
This is a tough question, but remember that you are trying to get behind the mask here. As always, look out for trends, as these will point more reliable toward a true picture of the company culture.
Don’t forget: one man’s meat is another man’s poison. You may actually relish some of the cultural challenges that some of the existing employees find difficult. It’s about finding the culture that suits you.
If you do sense the interviewers are struggling with any of these questions, just reassure them that company culture is important to you and you want to join a company culture where you can perform to your optimum.