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The employment deal is starting to change. No longer are candidates begging for jobs, especially if they have a great track-record, or their skills are scarce. It has become more of a partnership with employees changing roles and businesses more frequently, and employers increasingly restructuring and relaxing contractual ties. It has become more of a partnership of equals. Employers increasingly want employees that match their culture. People increasingly want to work in an environment where they feel comfortable, and one which matches their style and ways of working. We all want to be happy at work, right? Current figures show that 65% of the population do not want to go to work each day. Why not become one of the 35% that are fulfilled?
With employers increasingly talking about cultural fit we turn the tables in this article by defining the right questions to ask at interview to make sure that you will fit the culture of the role. These questions are all positively phrased, designed to stretch, but not embarrass the interviewer, but, most importantly, work out if you would fit their culture and they would fit your needs.
Interview questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview are a minefield that can cause great problems if they are on the wrong topic or phrased in the wrong way. Below in bold italic you will find cultural needs. Find those that match your personal needs. You will then find the question to ask at the start of the bullet. If you would prefer to use a methodical approach, we would suggest the Personal Values Inventory on this site. Based on the results, you will then find questions appropriate to your needs.
- “How will I know if I am doing a good job?” – Ask this you enjoy a culture where you get continual feedback.
- “What do you think needs taking forward in this dept./function/business, and how can I help you achieve this?” – Ask this if you like a Job culture that is into challenge.
- “In your [potential boss’] view, what needs improving within the remit of the role, and how can I help make those improvements?” Ask this if you want a culture where creativity is important. The more they say it is up-to-you, the more of a creative input you are likely to have.
- “To perform at the highest standards in this role, what sort of decision-making will I be responsible for?” – Ask this if you want a culture where you can make decisions.
- “How does the quality ethos reflect itself within the department/function or business?” – Ask this if you are looking for a quality-led culture.
- “What sort of deadlines will I need to meet to ensure success on a daily and weekly basis?” – Ask this if you are looking for a fast-pace culture.
- “How does the business disseminate information?” – Ask this if you are looking for a sharing culture where you want to understand what what’s going on in the business.
- “By my delivering this role to the best it can be done, what cost saving or profit generation will it assure the business?” – Ask this if you want a high pressure culture.
- “What sort of reporting relationship do you prefer?” Ask this of the potential boss where you want a culture that allows you independence and autonomy.
- “What would my personal development plan be for the first six months [or other time frame]?” – Ask this if you are looking for a culture that takes development seriously.
- “When I have succeeded in this role, what further opportunities are there for me within the business?” – Ask this if you want a culture that encourages internal promotions rather than external recruitment.
- “What part of the process/service will I control and be fully responsible for?” – Ask this if you want a culture that encourages personal responsibility and ownership.
- “For me to be successful in the role, what groups of people will I need to partner with, and on what sort of frequency?” – The more groups you partner with, the more of an expert you will be seen as. Ask this if you want a culture that encourages expertise.
- “So I can get feel for how I would best contribute, could you take me through an average day in this role.” – Ask this if you want a job culture that is based on variety. You are looking for the employer to find it difficult to provide an average day.
- “I always look to be successful in my roles. To be successful in this role, who will I need to make contact with on a daily/weekly basis?” – Ask this if you want a culture that emphasises working with people.
You know what an interviewer’s final question is 90% of the time? Simply, “Do you have any questions for me?” Use 2 or 3 of the above interview questions to ask the employer that are culturally important to you, as they will fulfil a number of needs:
- If you reply to their question, “No, I think you have covered everything”, they may think you are not interested in the role or that you are not bright enough to come up with questions. It is seen as a negative.
- If you ask the typical questions about salary, you’ve just entered a negotiation and it may be the wrong time to do this. It may also look as if money is your motivation.
- Alternatively, if you ask some stretching questions that they may not have thought about, it will make you memorable, and you will be seen as brighter, interesting, serious about the role, and, you will find out if you really want the role and it is a culture you would enjoy.
As a final note, you don’t have to wait for interview to ask these questions. Think about:
- Job adverts, job descriptions and person specifications – they will all have clues from which you can ask some of the above questions.
- Use people you know and social media to ask these questions of people that already work in the business.
- Check their company values on line! Most organisations will have them published, so start to answer the questions for yourself.
If you would like to take a more methodical approach to what interview questions to ask the employer at interview, you can use the Personal Values questionnaire.
Now go and be happy: work in the right culture for you!
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