My least favorite question in an interview, besides “where do you see yourself in five years?” (because let’s be real, I barely have my day planned out, much less the next five years.) is “do you have any questions for us?” I usually ask the interviewer to describe the corporate culture to me and pray that they think I’m the right fit and vice versa. But, of course, if the work environment was toxic, do you think your prospective employer would actually tell you?
With the rise of outing toxic workplace cultures and unethical business practices, it can be easier than ever to determine if a company creates a hostile work environment for its employees. But, even if the company is ‘nontoxic,’ you may not necessarily fit in or like the business’s practices. Many employees are dubious about onboarding with the next company that extends an offer, especially if they just left a toxic work environment, so what can you ask as an employee to help determine if a company is the right fit for you?
Career strategy coach, job search advisor, and interview consultant, Elissa Shuck, has curated a list of questions to ask to help uncover the leadership style and team culture.
Among my favorites for leadership style questions are:
1. How often do you like to be updated? (project status, challenges, communication)
Matching communication styles is very important. If you like a little more free rein to do your thing, you may not want to work for an employer who’s blowing up your email, texts, or Slack channel every fifteen minutes.
2. How often do you get your team together for collaborations and updates?
Look, we all hate the meetings that could have been an email, but on the other hand, certain tasks just can’t get done unless everyone is on the same page – especially when they require interdepartmental collaboration.
3. If I’m hired what’s the best way I can support your efforts/vision/strategy?
Knowing how you fit in and how your talents can be best utilized is key.
4. What is your approach on the professional development of your team?
You want to grow professionally, and it’s important to know which companies offer professional development, and access to good, free professional development can be part of the benefits package along with a 401k, retirement, and generous PTO.
Now, you and your prospective boss may see eye to eye, but will you fit in with the team? Knowing how your prospective teams operate and how you fit into the equation could make or break your experience at the company.
My favorite team culture questions are:
1. What’s the most common form of communication between team members?
I like texting since I can’t keep refreshing my inbox 1,000 times a day. Plus, I hate when something’s urgent and someone takes all day (or longer!) to reply to your emails. Personally, I think expecting employees to keep up with Slack, Discord, email, and texts, AND blowing them up daily is too much. I’d rather have one central method of communication, but if you like the chaos, you do you!
2. What was the most recent team accomplishment?
If teams can’t accomplish much together, then that’s a sign that there is a greater issue within the team or leadership, and that’s a red flag. I’d run, not walk, if they can’t name a single team accomplishment.
3. How long have you been on the team?
Many companies suffer from a high turnover rate with their employees. This, again, is a symptom of a larger problem at play. Conversely, there could be multiple new hires – a sign that the company is growing quickly – which means that there is a lot of potential for growth or upwards promotion within the company! And finally, If I’m hired, what’s the best way I can support the team [efforts, vision, strategy]?
You’re a star, and you deserve to be in a team or with a company that allows you to shine, and aligns with your efforts. At the end of the day, they may be a great company or a great team but you might not be the right fit, and that is perfectly okay!
Employers, be prepared for candidates to ask these questions, and be prepared to answer them, after all, it’s better for everyone in the long run if you get an employee that’s the right fit the first time! Perspective employees, do not be afraid to ask these questions in your next interview. The right company won’t mind answering them and now, more than ever, since it’s an employee’s job market!
This article only served as the abridged version of an important post, by an expert in the job searching industry. Please go and check out the full post and for those jobseekers, good luck on your next interview, I hope you find the perfect fit soon!