By Karen Eber
You are in the last five minutes of the job interview, and the interviewer asks: “What questions do you have?”
Time is limited, so you ask the question you think will be most helpful: “What is the culture like here?”
Don’t do this. There are better questions to understand the culture.
The interviewer will typically respond by describing the values of the company. Their reply will have some variation of trust, collaboration, transparency, integrity which are the same values that show up in various forms in many companies. These don’t help you understand the day-to-day experience.
Culture is felt through the behaviors that are reinforced or discouraged on a day-to-day basis on teams. If you want to get a sense of the story of the leader and team’s culture, use detailed questions. You will get a much better sense based on the responses, especially if the leader struggles to think of what to say. If you are a manager, prepare to answer detailed questions that illustrate your team’s culture.
Better questions to ask a hiring manager:
1) Tell me about a time a team member changed your mind? This lets you know if the leader feels they are the only one who has the answers or if they are open to different opinions. You are going to learn how they prefer to receive information and what they value.
4) Describe a recent success or win. They should be able to come up with something pretty quickly. If they can’t, that might indicate that they aren’t great about celebrating progress or recognizing people along the way to milestones. They don’t have to describe a huge win. However, they should be able to think of a recent event that demonstrates progress.
8) Tell me about the last person you recognized. Recognition can be a thoughtful conversation, an email, an award, or even a mention in an all-hands meeting. You want to see if the leader struggles to come up with an example or easily mentions individual and team recognition. Does the leader have the mindset that development includes helping people see the contributions they are making?