When you’re applying for a job, you’re looking for more than a series of exciting responsibilities. You simply can’t do your best work unless you’re in an environment where you feel at home. Indeed, the culture of a company should greatly factor in your decision to work there (as well as the company’s decision to hire you!). This month’s interview question asks, What kind of company culture is important to you? In order to best answer this question, here are some questions you need to ask yourself.
What do I want a company to value?
A company’s values dictate nearly everything, from how employees and clients are treated to how professionalism is expressed. Consider which company’s mantras and practices are appealing to you, and where they’re coming from. Do you treasure honesty? Ambition? Innovation? Be truthful with yourself about what values inspire you to do your best—don’t feel pressure to make the answer unique, just authentic.
How do I define collaboration?
While your work habits may seem to be an individual issue, giving thought to your relationship to collaboration will be revealing when considering an ideal company culture. Of course most companies encourage collaboration but for different companies that can look like drastically different processes. Ask yourself how and when you like to share ideas, how many people you enjoy working with, the ways in which you prefer to present information, and the ways in which you best receive feedback. Articulating this will no doubt clarify your preferred culture.
What does my dream office look like?
Too often candidate consider the abstract qualities of company culture and overlook the obvious: the physical workspace. Ask yourself, what do you want your ideal office to look like? From Pixar’s central atrium to Bloomberg’s “bullpen” environment to Google’s slide between floors, the actual space in which you work is a large part of the company culture and will absolutely influence your performance.
Don’t try to give an answer you think fits the company at which you’re interviewing— just be honest! It’s not finicky to state your preferences, it demonstrates a self-awareness and confidence that gives you and the company the best shot at a situation where everyone feels happy!
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.