Interviewers will often ask questions pertaining to company culture. These inquiries can reveal a lot about what it's like to work at a particular company. During an interview, it's also appropriate — and wise — for you to ask your interviewer about the company's culture. Doing so will deepen your understanding of the work environment and how people relate to each other at the company.
What Is Company Culture?
Company culture includes a range of factors, including how employees dress and interact with company leaders, typical work hours, and more. Although company policy can certainly influence culture, the dominant force in creating and maintaining a company culture is generally social.
Ideally, workplace culture supports efficient work along with an enjoyable work environment.
There are many different company cultures that do just that. That is, there is no one correct workplace culture. The important thing is that new hires be compatible with the culture. Otherwise, communication problems or worse could develop.
Of course, a company culture can, by definition, be learned, but that does not mean that all qualified employees want to learn a given culture — some people will just never want to attend employee birthday parties, for example.
It’s also possible that a company culture might involve lifestyles that are inappropriate for some people. For example, a working parent might be unable to work frequently extended hours. Or a style you developed in your previous workplace might be totally different from the company where you're interviewing, which could make a new adjustment period difficult.
Why Do Interviewers Ask Questions About Company Culture?
Interviewers ask questions about company culture to ensure the employees they hire will be a good fit for the organization. For instance, a person who thrives with a great deal of structure might find working for a company with a flat structure challenging. Similarly, someone accustomed to wearing a suit every day and having a closed-door office might find it jarring to work in an open office format with denim-clad co-workers.
Be ready with honest answers when the interviewer asks questions about company culture. And, if the interviewer asks "Do you have any questions for me?" be aware that questions about company culture are a great fit for this moment.
Interview Questions About Company Culture
Interview questions about company culture are designed to determine whether you will be a good fit for an organization. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions—since a bad fit is just as problematic for you as for your employer—but you can practice answering typical questions in order to increase your confidence for your interview.
Here are examples of interview questions that are used to determine whether you're a good match for the company:
- Did you fit in with the culture working with your last employer?
- What would be the ideal company culture for you?
- How would you describe yourself?
- Tell me about yourself.
- Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
- What type of work environment do you prefer?
- How would you describe your work style?
- Describe a typical work week.
- Do you take work home with you?
- How many hours do you normally work?
- Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it.
- How do you handle stress and pressure?
- Who was your best boss and who was the worst?
- Why should we hire you?
- What do you know about this company?
- Why do you want to work here?
- How do you evaluate success?
- What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?
Corporate Culture Questions for You to Ask
You're being interviewed, but you're also interviewing the company to see if you think you'll fit in, enjoy the work, and excel at your new job. Remember, the hiring process is not just about finding a company that is willing to hire you — it’s also about finding a place that's the right fit for you. Plus, you want to find an employer that can help you meet your professional goals.
Interviewers will expect you to have some questions about the job or the company. Here are some questions you can ask to determine if you'd be comfortable in the company's environment:
- How would you describe your corporate culture in five words?
- What's the best part of working here that I wouldn't be able to see on a tour?
- What kind of employee achievements does the company recognize?
- What kind of philanthropy does the company contribute to or participate in?
- How often do you hold company-wide meetings?
- What is the company's approach to career development?
- Describe the work-life balance of employees.
- What kind of opportunities do you offer for advanced training and education?
- Why are you proud of this company?
- What's one thing you would change about the company if you could change absolutely anything?
Each company develops its own culture. Benefits and company policy play a role in culture, but there are also other aspects that are not formally codified.
There are no right or wrong answers to questions about company culture. Interviewers ask culture questions to find out if you'll be a good fit for a particular company culture.
Make your own inquiries about company culture during the interview. That way, you'll get a sense of the environment, and know whether it's a good fit for you.