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Posted by Hays UAE, September 2016

Jane McNeill, Director of Hays Australia suggests 7 key questions that will help you assess if an organisation will be the right fit:

1. Ask the interviewer to describe the workplace culture

This may sound like a pretty obvious question but it is a good place to start to expand on your own research. Ask your recruiter this question too during a first interview or initial phone call.

Be ready to ask a follow up to clarify or expand on your understanding of any aspect of the answer that captures your attention.

2. I’ve gotten a bit of a feel for your culture on my walk-through the office today. Can you tell me some of the ways your culture shows up that I can’t see?

The answer to this question should build on your own observations. Are desks super tidy or adorned in family photos and unique creative touches? What are people wearing – suits only or a mixture of attire? Are there freshly created work plans and diagrams on the wall reflecting team collaboration? Is it silent or is there an audible buzz of energy? Again there is no right and wrong here only what is right for you so keep your eyes open and see what “speaks” to you. And then listen closely to the answer to see if it gels with your observations.

3. How do decisions get made and what role does the team play in the process?

This will help shed light on whether the culture is collaborative or one where top down decision making is the norm.  

Some people prefer to be part of the decision making process and contribute to the way new challenges and projects are tackled while others need the certainty of a process or instructions from above that they can follow to just get on with their work.

4. Tell me about how you recognise and celebrate success?

Research on staff engagement shows people are more motivated and engaged by recognition for a job well done than by money so this question will help you understand if success is recognised and how.

If the interviewer is stumped by this question, this could be a red flag. Don’t let on of course but make a mental note to do a little more research or to pose a follow up question with your recruiter.

5. How do you like your direct reports to communicate with you?

This may help you figure out if the company has a meeting or email dominated culture and whether communication is formal, informal or a mix of both. By answering this question, the boss should also provide an indication of how available she/he is to staff on a daily basis.

6. What do you look for from your team to help you deal with new challenges as well as the more stressful times?

How a manager behaves while under pressure is a good test of her/his management style as well as the workplace culture. Facing down challenges can be both exhilarating and stressful. Asking this question will help you gain an understanding of how pressure is passed on to team members.

This question is a good alternative to the clichéd: ‘How would you describe your management style?’

7. Can you tell me about the internal training program here and any support for staff to study externally?

This will tell you if the company supports a culture of investing in its people and actively setting them up for success by arming them with new skills and knowledge.

A well-supported professional development program is also an indicator of a workplace culture that looks to promote from within.

Questions better directed to your recruiter

There are some questions that are better directed to your recruiter – at least in the early stages of the screening process.

A good example is a question about hours. You’re no clock-watcher but you could have a very good reason for needing to know if a culture of late nights is the norm.

Also, while researching the company via its website you may have seen details on its “Careers” or “Join Us” pages that warrant closer attention such as any claims about supporting workplace flexibility. What does that mean?

What is the job tenure like at the employer organisation? Did the last person leave or were they promoted from within? Or is it a new role?

Thinking up relevant questions to ask your potential new boss is job interview preparation 101 but don’t ask questions for the sake of it – with these questions you can be strategic and get a feel for whether the employer has a culture in which you and your career will thrive.

You should be fit to go! Good luck with your interview.