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The Interview Decoder - "What kind of culture are you looking for?"

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Job interviews are intimidating. More often than not, you spend hours preparing yourself, ensuring you have all the answers to any question they could possibly ask - then, they ask you something you somehow don’t have the answer to.

In this series, you’ll get insight into the true meaning behind some of the toughest interview questions out there, as well as a few different options for how you can best answer them.

While your interviewer may be asking about your views on work culture, it’s actually much more important for you to know what the company’s stance is. You’ll want to give an answer to the question, but you should then immediately counter with some questions of your own. This is a technique that we like to call "flipping the interview." This means that you should be interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you.

For example, if you want a collaborative environment for your next career move, and you get the impression at an interview that everyone works in a solitary cubicle with little to no interaction, that won’t be a job that you’ll want to continue interviewing for.

Questions that you might want to ask:

  • “Could you tell me a little bit about the culture here at XYZ?”

  • “Since everyone works remotely, how often does the team meet?”

  • “What’s the best method of communication for the team?”

This technique will show that you’re intelligent and will help separate you from the competition. This will set you apart from someone who doesn’t take the opportunity on a seemingly easy question to differentiate themselves from the other candidates.

There is also self-motivation behind this; if you join a workplace that has a culture that’s the opposite of what you’re looking for, it will be pretty impossible for you to change it alone nor should you. Every new personality will add a new facet to the culture of a company, but one outgoing new employee won’t suddenly convince a room full of introverts to institute a weekly company happy hour.

Think about this ahead of your interview, and create a clear picture in your mind of what type of company you would be happy working for.

You can use this as a guide for how to phrase your answer, but you want to make sure that you’re being truthful about what you’re looking for. Even if the job description sounds great, you won’t want to stick around for a culture that you don’t enjoy.

Your answer could sound something like this:

  • “Culture in a company is very important to me. Ideally, I’m looking for a collaborative environment with a great atmosphere and friendly interaction between peers, along with a healthy level of competition. Is this the kind of culture you have here, or is it a different environment?”

Replace the things above with whatever it is that you’re looking for, whether it’s a place you can feel mentored, a fast-paced environment, or something else entirely. Know what you’re looking for before you walk through the door, and be honest about it when they ask you. It’s the best way to make sure you end up somewhere you can be happy and grow.

No matter what you decide to say, there are three things you’ll want to remember:

  • Have a great Attitude

  • Be Charismatic

  • Bring Enthusiasm to each and every interview

If you use this guide and remember these three things, you’ll be sure to ACE your interview.

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