There are many aspects to consider when looking for a new job, and culture is one of them. Most try to understand company culture by reading websites and asking questions about company values and perks. However, what you may be able to learn from those channels does not answer the most important questions like: “Will I like working here?” or “Will I be able to thrive in this work setting?”
The good news is that there are questions you can ask to help assess whether or not the company culture will be the right fit.
By knowing your work preferences, which may – or may not – be what you are good at based on your expertise, you can ask pointed questions. For example, my upbringing and career experience have enabled me to be extremely detailed-oriented. However, if I allow myself to focus on details too much, and for too long, I become stressed. If you are unsure or have difficulty pinpointing your preferences, you can identify them through the Myers–Briggs® Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. Personality type is the result of the interplay between your four preferences represented by one pole of each dichotomy. At a basic level, if you have a preference for:
Energy Preference for Extraversion or Introversion
- Extraversion: You get your energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. Questions to ask, “Tell me about my workstation area?” and “Are there a lot of meetings?”
- Introversion: You get your energy from ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside your head. Questions to ask, “How free am I to work alone on a project?” and “Are there quiet places I can go to think and work?”
Perception Preference for Sensing or Intuition
- Sensing: You gather information through the five senses focusing on concrete facts, details, and experiences that occur in the present. Questions to think about, “How are decisions made?” and “What percentage of my day will I spend working on real issues?”
- Intuition: You gather information as patterns or global wholes, focusing on interrelationships, meanings, and possibilities in the future. You may want to assess, “Does the work allow me to learn new things and develop new skills?” and “Can I switch departments/career paths easily?”
Judgment Preference for Thinking or Feeling
- Thinking: You focus on fairness and objectivity. You may want to understand, “How much will I have to deal with interpersonal issues?” and “Do technically-focused people make it around here?”
- Feeling: You seek empathy and harmony. You will want to ask, “How does this team celebrate successes?” and “Can you provide examples of how people get along and work together?”
Attitude or Orientation to Outer World Preference for Judging or Perceiving
- Judging: You think sequentially, value schedules and structure, and take deadlines seriously. You will want to know, “What kinds of planning will I be able to do?” and “On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how well organized is the work here?”
- Perceiving: You are open to change, and are adaptable and flexible, where deadlines are merely a suggestion. You will want to know, “On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how much freedom to do one’s job exists here?” and “Are there opportunities for flexible work schedules?”
The above are examples to get you thinking. As an interviewee, you have an equal right to know what you may be signing up for before it’s too late. Be prepared in advance to assess the environment and build your questions throughout various meetings. Getting your points across, and your questions answered takes practice and discipline.