By Riley Phillips | Career Advice, Career Transition Company Culture: 3 Tips for Uncovering it During the Interview Process
How do you define company culture? I like to define it as the collective attitudes and behaviors of a company and its employees. But the truth is, that means something different to each person. Some people crave a collaborative environment. Others prefer to work autonomously. Flexibility might be a nonnegotiable for one person. While another may need to be in the office 9-5 each day with an hour lunch, and once they’re done for the day, they’re done.
I wasn’t surprised to find that company culture sits at the top of the priority list for O&P clinicians who are considering a new opportunity. It can be the difference in bounding out of bed every morning or hitting the snooze button one too many times. In a recent poll I put out to my LinkedIn network, 41% of people surveyed said company culture is the most important thing they care about when considering a new role. So how do you really get to know a company culture when you’re only scratching the surface during the interview process? Here’s my advice: ask questions, be observant and debrief yourself.
I have more than 10 years of experience working with O&P practices and industry professionals. During my career tenure, I have prepped countless candidates for interviews. I know the inner workings of my clients’ company. The best way for you to learn about a company’s culture is to ask questions like these:
- What makes you proud to work at this company?
- How does the organization support your professional development and career growth?
- What role do company values play in hiring and performance reviews?
- How are decisions made when there’s disagreement and stakes are high?
- When and how do people like to give and receive feedback?
- What are some of the ways the company celebrates success?
- How do you as a manager—or, if more appropriate, how does your manager—support and motivate your team?
- In what ways does the company give back to the community?
You won’t have time to get through all of those questions during the interview process. This is where your definition of company culture comes into play. Pick 2-3 of those or similar ones to ask. Make sure you listen to the responses and ask any appropriate follow up questions. Remember, in today’s job market you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you.
Try to meet as many people as you can, even if it’s a quick hello. With a majority of first interviews happening virtually and current safety precautions in place, this may be tough. When you do get in front of your potential future managers and colleagues – pay close attention to their body language and the mood in the office. Do they seem at ease or tense when you’re talking to them? Is there a certain energy you felt when you walked in? Are people smiling or going about their day with their head down? Paying attention to the energy and environment can help you answer: Can I see myself proud and happy to work here?
It is absolutely okay to take notes during an interview whether it’s virtual or in-person. Just tell the person you’re interviewing with at the beginning. Those notes can help you answer these questions:
- Does the culture here support a collaborative goal and/or mission?
- Does the leadership team lead by example or lead by giving orders?
- Do employees feel valued for their contributions?
Answering those questions will help you decide whether or not this is a place that aligns with your values and career goals.
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