Dear People Ops:
I'm in the middle of interviewing for a new position. One of the primary reasons I'm leaving my current job is the culture. It's very cutthroat and downright unpleasant. But I have no idea how to evaluate the culture of the new place I'm interviewing to make sure its a fit for me. Any suggestions?
Great question job seeker! Company culture is the personality of a company, it defines the environment in which you will work. Too often we're focused on finding the right job, rather than the right culture. Finding a culture that you are comfortable, and can thrive in, will help guarantee success in a job.
So how do you evaluate a company's culture before you join? I have one simple question you should ask during the interview process.
"What determines whether people get pay raises or promotions here?"
Why do I like this question?
1. We work for money. Ok, we work for many reasons; recognition, the company's mission, the water cooler banter. But be honest, would you wake up at 6am five days a week if you weren't getting paid? Knowing how your hard work will translate into increased pay is important.
Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.
- Francis Hesselbein
2. The answer shows if the company takes culture seriously. A company that can clearly articulate how they give raises or promote employees has thought deeply about their people ops strategy and about how they treat their people. An interviewer or company who can't answer this question has not prioritized developing or being transparent with their team about their people ops strategy.
3. The answer reveals what the company values. This might be the most important outcome of asking this question. It gives you a chance to see if what the company values in their employees aligns with what you bring to the table. Is it output? Is it creativity? This gives you the opportunity to evaluate if your unique skills will be valued in this new workplace.
Best of luck in your job search! Remember, always evaluate the company, not just the job before accepting.
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