You’ve been invited to a job interview and arrive ready to discuss how well your skills match the job ad. Then, the interviewer asks:
"What do you look for in terms of workplace culture?"
Workplace culture? What does that even mean?
A short brainstorm and some light research will help you respond.
What is "Workplace Culture?"
At work, ‘culture’ is a word used to describe the way people behave within an organization, and the attitudes and beliefs that reflect those behaviors. It’s the way people communicate, interact, and in general, work with each other.
— Shanna Hocking, Harvard Business Review
This question shows an interviewer if your personality matches the company’s personality. They want to hire someone who can:
fit in with the workplace culture.
be flexible when their needs are different from the company's.
Brainstorm: Your Workplace Personality
Brainstorming gives you a list you can check before interviews.
Imagine your ideal office:
Private office, or open cubicle?
Working on teams, or alone?
9-to-5 day, or set your own hours?
Formal or casual atmosphere?
Does your ideal boss:
Watch over you, or let you solve problems yourself?
Treat you like they're your manager or your friend?
Does your ideal company:
Impact society in positive ways?
Recruit workers from different backgrounds?
Welcome people with disabilities?
Once you know what you need from the company culture, start researching what the company culture needs from you.
Which of these sentences reflect someone’s workplace personality? Select all that apply.
Research: The Company's Personality
Find out about the company's values and practices.
Try these five sources:
Job postings. Look for clues about management style, teams, and pace.
Company websites.“About Us” pages explain the organization’s values.
Social media. Photos might show the office space and social life.
Online reviews. What do people say about this company on Glassdoor?
Informational interviews. If you're comfortable, meet with a current employee to ask about office life.
Practice Responses: Show Fit and Flexibility
Use your brainstorming and research to practice explaining how your workplace personality fits the company. If you’ve noticed some of your needs are different from the company’s, show you can be flexible and adapt yourself.
Example 1: Show "Cultural Fit"
You want to show you don't mind being on-call around the clock. Say:
"As a manager, I support employees day and night. I love solving problems with my current team on 2 a.m. Zoom calls. I want to give that same support to your 24-hour customer service team."
Example 2: Show Flexibility
You want a private office, but this company uses open cubicles. Say:
"I work best in quiet, isolated workspaces, but I'm ready for your open-plan office. With my noise-cancelling headphones, I'll focus just as well as if I had a private office."
You Try: What Should Jana Say?
Jana's a friendly, extroverted person who likes to socialize at work. She's interviewing at a large corporation, and her research shows the workplace culture is professional and formal.
She's considering three responses to the "workplace culture" question:
"I like to bond with co-workers over our common interests. How can I join your company's charity fundraising team?"
"You'll see me walking around the office chatting with people a lot during my first week. I'm eager to make new friends."
"I see your company's training workshops as a smart way to connect with new coworkers since not everyone is comfortable meeting up outside of work."
Which responses show Jana's cultural fit or flexibility? Select all that apply.
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