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Candidates: Assess Company Culture When Interviewing

Too often, job candidates forget that interviewing is a two-way street. Certainly, the interviewer assesses whether or not the candidate is a fit in terms of competency and organizational culture. Similarly, the candidate should size up the company and its culture–at the time of the interview, not after working there six months.

Figuring out a company’s culture from a candidate’s perspective is not as daunting as you might think.  It simply means you need to bring an OAR approach to the interview (in addition to your notepad and pen!)

What is the OAR Approach to Interviewing?

O:  Observe

Let your eyes do some impression gathering.

  • When you arrive, are you greeted warmly by someone?
  • Do employees smile as you walk by?
  • What is the floor plan? Is it open? Are there offices?  What is the noise level?
  • Do employees have personal items out on their desks?
  • How are employees dressed?

A: Ask questions

Ask open-ended questions that get the interviewer talking.

  • How does work get done here? Do people work collaboratively? Independently?
  • Is professional development encouraged? What types of learning opportunities are available?
  • Does upper management have an eye on succession planning, or does it just “happen?”
  • What types of team bonding activities are there?
  • Are there expectations surrounding communications? How is email utilized inter-office?
  • How often are there team meetings? Do employees meet regularly with supervisors?
  • Are there opportunities for employee recognition?
  • Are there times the team celebrates together?

R: Research

Be sure to research the organization before your interview.

Conduct a Google search of the organization. Review the results. What makes the company’s website special? Has the company been in the news?

Search LinkedIn: 1.) How does the company manage its image on LinkedIn? 2.) Review the employees’ profiles.  Do you have anything in common with them (i.e., past work experience, volunteer passions, education, connections?) 3.) Has anyone from the firm published articles on LinkedIn that shed insights into the organization? 4.) If you do have connections in common, you may want to consider reaching out to them—with caution.  Be discerning if you do this, for obvious reasons. And, “follow” the organization as well.

OAR is Worth the Extra Prep

An OAR-approach to the interview process can help avoid you from saying “yes” to the wrong opportunity.

What questions have you asked in an interview that helped determine the company’s culture?