5 ways to virtually assess company culture
Interviewing, much like dating, is an interesting experience. The process can be exciting and nerve-wracking; the best thing you’ve ever done or an absolute waste of time.
As if things couldn’t get more interesting, the COVID curveball took interviewing to a whole new level.
Although many people have been hired and worked remotely for decades, most of us have had to shift towards virtual interviewing over the last few months.
Video interviews might never replace going into an office full of plants, having a beer with your future team and fully picking up on body language. However, this doesn’t prevent you from genuinely assessing a company’s culture.
Unfortunately, not everyone is versed in the world of remote work or professional interactions via Zoom. But folks? It’s 2020. Call it COVID-19 or otherwise, for many, virtual interviewing is here to stay.
So, how do you know if a company’s culture is right for you?
Here are 5 tips for (virtually) finding a company culture where you’ll thrive.
TIP 1: DO YOUR RESEARCH
Or better yet, first ask yourself, “What am I looking for out of this role?”
Once you’ve understood what you want in your next gig and future employer, get to researching. Dig through the business’s website, socials and any articles they might be featured in.
What do others say about them?
What do they say about themselves?
And most importantly, what’s their value proposition?
You should be able to get a general understanding of their company culture, whether they have a ‘Careers’ page or not.
Unfortunately, the price of not doing your research could be greater than you think. Not only will you have more difficulty understanding the company and its culture but it might even cost you the gig.
Fellow Melbourne HQ resident and Linktree Talent Acquisition Manager, Mitch King, says there’s one interview question/answer that can essentially draw a red line through an applicant’s name.
When Mitch asks, “What do you know about Linktree?” the last thing he wants to hear from the applicant is, “I don’t know anything about what Linktree is or does.”
Instead, having genuine enthusiasm and interest in the role and company will lead him and other hiring managers to know you’re serious about the opportunity.
The takeaway here? Yep, you got it. Do your research.
TIP 2: ASK MORE QUESTIONS
When you ask questions, you learn more about the opportunity, the business and the culture.
A great example of this comes from our friend and Director of Product at UsabilityHub, Milly Schmidt. Milly says a great way to better understand a company is by asking how a team decides to make new products and where new ideas come from.
She also encourages asking leaders about ideas a company has tried and abandoned because they didn’t work. Not only will this create a space for honest and vulnerable conversations, but it will also help build trust.
Another idea is asking the same questions to different people because it will likely yield different opinions.
For example – one person’s idea of their favourite workplace perk could widely differ from another’s (i.e. one loves the parental leave policy whilst the other loves the in-house chef).
Other questions you can consider asking:
- How does the company celebrate success?
- What does success look like in this role?
- Why did you (interviewer) join the company? Why have you stayed?
- How do you identify with the company’s value prop?
Lastly, look at the ever-dreaded, “Do you have any final questions for me?” as an OPPORTUNITY to do that final little dig.
TIP 3: AIM FOR DIVERSITY
Unless you’re being hired as the third member of the team, the hiring manager and the CEO are not representative of the entire business.
By virtually meeting other team members and seeing their diversity (skills, humour, seniority, cultural background, etc.), you’ll get a clearer idea of the culture you could be walking into.
A great example of a company who places diversity at the forefront of their hiring process is education consultancy, Curio.
The leadership team at Curio ensures diversity is front-of-mind in the hiring process and is therefore not by accident that applicants meet such a diverse range of team members.
If you’re interviewing at Curio, you’ll “quickly encounter diversity across ethnicity, gender, country of origin, [native] language, sexual orientation, education and belief systems amongst other things,” says Gin Atkins, Product Director at Curio.
Gin emphasises that if there is a misalignment in values, “particularly regarding something so fundamental as diversity, it can lead to poor recruitment outcomes for both parties.” Something we at affix, know all too well.
If meeting various people on the team isn’t part of your interview process, don’t sweat it. Your recruiter will gladly advocate on your behalf.
Maybe it’ll mean having an extra catch-up with the team or a slightly lengthier interview. Either way, this will give you a more authentic (and necessary) understanding of the company’s culture.
TIP 4: REQUEST (AND GIVE) FEEDBACK
Feedback throughout the process is critical from both ends.
Don’t be afraid to request feedback (whether you receive an offer or not) to better understand the final decision made.
Not only will this help you navigate your new role or your search moving forward, but it will also provide you with validation about your own thoughts throughout the process.
Likewise, whether you accepted or rejected an offer, respectfully providing the employer or your recruiter with feedback could be really helpful for the business’s employee experience efforts.
Remember, behind every business decision is a human who made it. Be kind.
TIP 5: TAKE TIME TO REFLECT
Before and after each interview, take some time to brain dump your thoughts onto paper or with someone you trust.
Before beginning your interview process:
Reflect on your previous work experiences; what do you want to avoid and what do you want to accomplish in your next role?
After each interview:
Did you uncover enough about the team and the overall company to make an informed decision? If not, take note of what you still need to know and address those points in the next round.
At the end of your interview process:
Think about what you initially wanted in a company before the process began. Have you found this? How do you feel now that you know what you know?
And lastly, play around with pretending you didn’t accept an offer. How does this make you feel?
Some final thoughts…
Remember that interviewing is not a one-sided process. You need to be as much of a match for the business, the team and the role as they are a match for you.
If dating was able to successfully navigate into the online world (I’ve now married thanks to an app), then virtual interviewing definitely has a space in the game.
When done right, the experience can pay off big time. In fact, you might even find your happy (work) place.
ABOUT ALEX POST:
Who am I? I’m a human-centred design and development Talent Advocate at affix with a passion for cultivating a network of Melbourne’s superstars and upcoming legends. Outside of work, I’m a wife, dog mom, Girls In Tech volunteer and Melbourne Indie Voices member. 🎶Feel free to contact me about anything tech, music or pet related! 🐶