Questions You Should Be Asking About a Company’s Culture

December 15th, 2016 Jennifer DiFolco

There is almost nothing worse than working for a company that you don’t feel a connection with. Most of us spend more (much more) time at work than we do anywhere else. Meaning more time spent with our colleagues and competitors than with our own families.

So if you’re looking for a new job, think about that. Of course it’s easy to get wrapped up in how you can impress a potential employer. But let’s not overlook the fact that people who feel truly connected and engaged in their work are not only happier but also more successful. When a company is a good cultural fit, and you’re working with like-minded individuals whom you respect and appreciate, you take more pride in your work. You will find yourself pushing a little harder, pursuing new goals, and wanting to contribute on a greater level.

For example, at 14 West we truly believe that some of the best growth happens when you learn from your mistakes.  Failure isn’t a dirty word to us.  We embrace it because it makes us stronger, and smarter.  But to a lot of people failure is completely unacceptable and debilitating. And so while our workplace energizes and excites me, it might terrify others.

Or maybe the physical environment and rules are more important to you. For example, can your colleague’s best friend Henry – who happens to be a Jack Russell terrier – spend the day at the office with him? Would you love every sweet puppy kiss or would you find him a serious and unnecessary distraction? Either way, it is important to know who you are and what you want out of a workplace environment.

But it’s not always easy to tell from initial research whether a company is a good fit for YOU. One resource we like for this sort of research is Glassdoor. Although we tend to be cautious here, too. It’s basically a TripAdvisor for workplaces where employees, former employees, and folks that have interviewed with a company can post an “objective” opinion. But – like you might see with TripAdvisor – you’re not always getting the whole story from the review itself. So be sure to read the employers’ responses. Or check to see if the company has been featured in articles, like this one about 14 West. Reading articles like this can help you gain better insight into the company you are interviewing with.

And even then… some of this investigative work is best done in the interview process. So here’s our “Top 10” Questions About Workplace Culture to help you out:

“Top 10” Questions About Workplace Culture

  1. What do you think your employees love about working here?
  2. What are the biggest challenges for folks here? OR Can you describe the type of person that wouldn’t do well here?
  3. In terms of culture and outlook, is this company more structured, corporate, and fairly conventional or lesser so?
  4. How do people here typically communicate, share ideas, collaborate?
  5. Can you tell me a little bit about the general tone here? Are people fairly formal or are they more casual?
  6. Does management value creativity, or are they more the “strictly business” type?
  7. Could you tell me a little bit about the learning process here? Is it more structured, or is there a little bit of “trial and error” to be expected?
  8. What is the general outlook on work-life wellness?
  9. Can you tell me a little bit about your workspace? What’s the scene there like?
  10. What made you take a job here?

Jennifer DiFolco

Talent Acquisition Manager at 14 West

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King

I’ve been at 14 West for two years as the Talent Acquisition Manager. I love being able to contribute to the growth of 14 West. The most exciting part is the challenge that it presents. Sometimes you advertise for a job but get a low response rate. I like to use that opportunity to get creative. You have to dig a bit deep, and the challenge can be exciting. Working at 14 West has allowed me to work with a really amazing team. We work hard but have a lot of fun, and we are continuously collaborating and pushing each other to be more innovative and creative in our recruiting efforts. The office is often chaotic, but entertaining. Working at 14 West means being willing to do something that needs to get done even if it’s outside of your job description. No task should be below you or too small for you to do. You can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!

What is your favorite company event of the year? I love the White Elephant Gift Exchange that we do every year. It is always so much fun, and people can get really silly with it. Almost every year there is a framed picture of our CFO circulating that everyone really wants. It’s funny seeing people walk out disappointed at the end when they don’t get it.