How to Determine if a Job has the Right Office Culture For You

As a job seeker, you know that finding your dream job isn’t just about the paycheck. Feeling connected to the people you work with and being passionate about your job is integral to your overall satisfaction. Before bringing on a new employee, companies want to make sure that a candidate is a great fit—not only as it pertains to job duties and responsibilities, but also in terms of values, team dynamic, and overall company culture.

Finding the right team and cultural fit is essential for both candidates and hiring managers to uncover during the job interview. Determining whether a workplace is right for you before you take the job is all in the interview questions. We’ve pulled together insights and questions from both job seekers and hiring teams to help candidates figure out if their prospective company is the right one for them.

What your interviewer may ask you:

You’re probably already pro at answering the most common interview questions. But sometimes a hiring team will throw a curve ball question your way to see how you respond and react on your toes. Now, hiring teams not only want to know what skills you can bring to their organization, but they want to make sure your thinking, your work ethic, and your unique personality will fit with their teams. Below are a few of the best, unique interview questions we’ve heard from hiring teams to help determine if a candidate is a good cultural fit for their office:

• You’re hosting a party and you get to invite three guests—who are they and why?

• If you are going to build a company similar to ours, where would you start?

• What is your work-life spirit animal?

• What’s the last costume you wore?

What are companies looking for with these questions?

Sometimes it's about your thought process and how you get to your answer. Sometimes it’s understanding what’s important to you. Sometimes it's about the bigger picture to determine how you solve problems, ask questions, and seek to understand. Are you somebody that is put off by an outside-of-the-box question? Then maybe this team is not the right fit for you. Are you somebody that can come up with an answer, no matter how silly the question is? That might be what matters. When it comes to questions like this, interviewers can get to know a lot about you and what you value, both personally and professionally, through the information you choose to share (and the information you left out on purpose!) and reading your non-verbal cues and reactions.

What to ask your interviewer:

Your face-to-face interview with the hiring team is not only a chance for them to figure out if you could fit into their workplace but for you to determine if this is the type of team you want to work with. Don’t be afraid to ask them the hard questions! Our best advice? Don’t ask simple yes or no questions. To truly understand the company’s values and office culture, ask specific scenario questions to get a clear picture of what that actually looks like on the inside of their organization. Below are some great examples that candidates have asked their interviewers:

• When a snowstorm hits, how does your company deal with it?

• When a holiday has come up or a last minute situation has arisen with your people, how do you and your team handle it?

• In five minutes, tell me the qualities of your ideal applicant.

• How do you define a hard day of work in your organization? What does it look like?

Why should you do this? The company you’re interviewing at may say that they value work-life balance, but what does that really mean? Is it the flexibility to work from home? Is it the ability to take last-minute, unlimited PTO? Now is your chance to bring up real scenarios to uncover how their organization operates. Show that you are open to asking questions and will not allow your own assumptions to be the answers. Asking specific, open-ended scenario questions allows you to get a clear picture of their company values so that you can see how your own values align. If you want to have the flexibility to work from home, but when a snowstorm hits, they still ask that their employees to drive to the office, this might be a sign that you’re not as aligned with this potential employer as you thought.

The key aspect of interviewing is making sure that you find the place that works for you. Don’t just take any offer—by giving genuine and authentic responses and asking specific questions, you’re more likely to find a great company that you’ll feel connected with and a job that you'll be happy going to every day.

Now that you’re prepared to ask the right questions for your upcoming interview, make sure you know how to tackle the most stressful interview mistakes head-on.