5 questions to ask in an interview to find the right cultural fit

May 9, 2016

Published by Alexandra Wilson

5 questions to ask in an interview to find the right cultural fit

There are a number of important considerations when searching for your next job and arguably none more important than the culture of the organisation under consideration. Yet, the culture of a business can be difficult to define or uncover during the interview process. Given this, the chance that you miss the mark on cultural fit is high.

Culture is the attitudes, customs, beliefs and behaviour characteristics of a group of people.

It is easy enough to understand the responsibilities of the role, however cultural expectations require a greater level of investigation. Below are some intelligent questions to help you understand if you are aligned to an organisation culturally.

  1. What are some of the common traits of individuals who have been actively promoted through the business in recent times?
  2. What are the behaviours that are valued by the senior leaders of the organisation? Remember that values differ from behaviours; values change over time but expected behaviours remain constant.
  3. Would you say that critical conversations more frequently happen around the meeting table or at the water cooler within this organisation?
  4. What is the company policy on professional development and further education
  5. What is the business structure (flat or hierarchical) and leadership style (laissez-faire or autocratic)?

To further understand the cultural intricacies of a business, you could also ask previous and current employees the above questions. This should give you a clear, objective representation of the business as a whole and the opinions held by past and current employees.

There are also sites such as Glassdoor and Jobadvisor which host a plethora of information about the culture of a business as rated by employees.

All of these tactics combined allow you to build a more in-depth understanding if you are culturally compatible with an organisation. Once you have the answers it is a matter of comparing your expectations to that of the company you are interviewing with. If there are synergies between your attitudes, beliefs and behaviours and the organisation you are interviewing with, your decision making process and transition into a new role will be much smoother.

Website Photos_Alexandara Sitting

Alexandra Wilson

Specialist Consultant – B2B Sales & Marketing

2 thoughts on “5 questions to ask in an interview to find the right cultural fit”

  1. Thanks Alexandra – Good concise capture of the key things to ask yourself about an organisation BEFORE you join it! In my personal experience, we are often dazzled by the bright lights of ‘new company / new adventure / greener grass’ and don’t take a few steps to uncover some of the less obvious but highly important cultural qualities and principles of a business. I’ve made the mistake of ignoring some pretty ominous warning signs before, thinking that it will be alright once I am onboard. Sometimes, despite the risk it brings, saying no to a job is the best thing you will ever do.

  2. A very valuable tool kit to use when looking at a possible new role. I went from Shell (where not to give your view on a business issue was the worst error you could make) to Coles Myer which was more like a Stalinist state where only the (dodgy and self serving) opinions of the (1990s) management mattered though seeing the bright lights and nothing more.

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