A key thing that is often hard to gauge in the interview process is cultural fit. That is, do you potentially share the same values, goals, attitudes and practices at the company you are interviewing for? This will potentially have a huge impact on how much you engage with your colleagues, manager and company. It will also likely determine how long you stay in the role you are applying for.
Given the broad scope and intangible nature of the topic, it is unlikely a simple question at the job interview will provide all the insight you need to make an informed decision. Below are some practical questions to consider when trying to figure it out.
1. What industry is the organisation in?
If you are applying for a role in the same industry as your current one, then this is straight forward. If you are however looking to branch out or just starting out, this can be tricky. Different organisations pursue different strategies and promote different cultures because of the industry they are in. While many organisations will for example, say they focus on customers – ‘how’ they go about this, may be vastly different. An online business may for example be data driven and focus on analysing transactions and trends, while a government service delivery organisation could start with the process, to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.
A possible way to understand this, according to the Harvard Business Review, is to map how people interact (independence vs interdependence) to how they respond to change (flexibility vs stability). You can see from the diagram below, different companies can potentially fall into different quadrants. A company like Tesla for example, is likely to fall into the ‘Learning’ category. An insurance company will conversely find more resonance with a ‘Safety’ label.
Think about how you like to interact and react to situations. Understanding where you feel most comfortable will give some good insights.
2. What is the company like at the day to day level?
Understanding what a company is like to work at, at a day to day level, is vital to ensuring your longevity and contentment in the role. This is easier said than done. There are however plenty of resources on line to help, beyond the company website. Glassdoor is perhaps one of the best resources available to get insider knowledge. Make sure to use a bit of common sense though on any outlier views and see if there are any trends across feedback and comments. LinkedIn is another great resource. It can be used pre and post interview, to find out about the person interviewing you and those you will likely be working with. Once you know their name, title or business unit, do a quick search to better understand people’s background, skills and experience. Is the team dynamics likely to be a good one, compared to where you are now and have experienced elsewhere?
3. Do I know someone who works there?
If you happen to know someone who works there or has worked there, then be sure to get it straight from the horse’s mouth. Such a contact is likely to know the ins and outs better than most. Make sure you are also circumspect about the advice though, as they may be coloured by why they left or which area they worked in. The best time to get in touch is thus in the final leg of a recruitment process, when you’ve had a chance to assess for yourself who you will be working with and what area of the company you will be located. You can then get their thoughts on any unresolved questions or areas that are awkward to raise at the interview.
4. At what stage or in what position is the company in?
With digital disruption, automation and other factors affecting almost every industry, it is worth considering where the company you are applying for sits. Are they likely to be greatly impacted, if not now, then sometime in the future? What does the competitive landscape look like? Are they a dominant force or a challenger company in the industry? The answers will likely have an impact on the nature of your role, as well as the way duties are performed within the organisation.
5. At what stage is your career (and life) in?
A big area that most people do not spend enough time thinking about is where they are in their career and life. Being happy and a good fit, means a role satisfies your professional and personal goals. The responsibilities you have currently though, may not be something you want to continue with. After all, that may be the reason you are looking for a new job. You may also have personal commitments like family or study, that is likely to take up more time than you can presently spare. Changing jobs can be stressful. Add other commitments on top and you can quickly be in danger of burning out.
Custom Interview Workouts support your long-term success by providing tips on questions to ask at the interview. Use it as a starting point to consider some of the things highlighted. Once you are in a position to assess a job offer, be sure to think about what a ‘good fit’ means to you.