Identifying your Culture Crush

Photography: Designecologist

Photography: Designecologist

Written by Katie Bowman

Reading time: 3 minutes

Heart palpitating, you hang up the phone and start jumping around the room like a loon. Your dream job just called for an interview! No biggie, just THE gig you’ve been manifesting since LinkedIn was a thing.

Before you get too hung up on electrifying them with your energy, humour and charm, just remember that this interview (ahem, blind date) is as much about you sussing them out, as it is them you. 

My most enjoyable interviews are when I’ve steered the conversation to get them talking first. This not only buys me time to relax and stop the sweats, but also get a read on the kind of company and manager they are, and whether it’s something I desperately want in on. 

You should be able to tell within a few minutes if a place is proud of their people, values and culture. They’ll be genuinely excited and keep on talking. Good luck getting air time. If they’re crap at culture, they’ll skim the surface and throw the microphone straight back at you. 

Having endured my fair share of interviews, I look back now and wish someone had given me a magic list of questions to help weed out the soul and culture killers. Even after years of experience I’m still guilty of being blindsided in the moment when an opportunity seems so god damn good.

So, as well as doing your homework in the lead up to D-Day, like combing the company’s website and stalking staff with your LinkedIn in private mode, here’s a handy list of questions to add to your interview artillery to help you find YOUR perfect culture crush! 

What are three things this company values most? 

When you find a workplace that aligns with your values, you won’t hate your alarm clock.

What’s something you wish your manager had told you in your interview?

This curveball will tell you what’s important to the person sitting across the table.

What kinds of people are successful here? 

Know their expectations upfront and whether they support a sustainable work/life balance.

What do you do to engage your staff? 

Friday drinks at the local Irish pub is not a staff engagement program. Just sayin’,

What gets you out of bed to come to work every morning? 

I love this one because it tells you what makes them tick!

Now, if you’re like me and have a tendency to forget stuff when the pressure’s on, don’t sweat it. Every good plan has a back up plan! Before and after you step through the door, here’s some culture clues to keep your peepers out for.

What was the job ad like? What kind of qualities were they looking for in a person?

When your interview was scheduled did they respect your time, keep rescheduling, or cancel at late notice?

Was the person/s interviewing you actively listening and interested in what you had to say?

Was the office arranged to foster an inclusive environment? Were people smiling or sulking?  

Did the office have personality with staff knick knacks? Would your Ryan Gosling meme blend in?

With your interview done and dusted, how do you feel? Were you skipping out the door or is something not sitting right? Listen to your inner instinct and trust yourself. 

If you’re offered the job but your gut is telling you something you don’t want to hear, it’s OK to politely turn it down. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes that didn’t fit, right? 

Take my word for it. You’ll thank yourself later.

Mike Fritzwork, interview, guide, howto, inclusive