Several years ago in our men’s Bible study, one of the guys shared some fascinating information regarding Jesus’ life on this earth. The Scriptures record that Jesus asked over 300 questions, and we’re also told that while He was asked over 180 questions, He only directly answered 3. Many times, He actually answered questions with questions of His own.
Dale Carnegie’s famous book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” includes a chapter about asking questions. Every successful business consultant I’ve ever spoken with talks about the importance of asking good questions. As a parent, I slowly learned the best way to get conversations going with my children was to ask open-ended questions versus questions that could be answered yes/no/fine.
Scripture also tells us in James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
So, at this point it should be no surprise to you that the Clue #8, the last clue in our series about how to determine if you’re the right fit for an organization, is to ask direct questions. Not to simply ask questions, but to ask “direct” questions. No beating around the bush. No inferences or possible implications or interpretations, but politely, genuinely, and directly ask questions of the interviewer about the workplace culture in the organization you’re considering.
Typically in an interview, the job candidate is allowed some time for questions he/she might have of the interviewer. For 60-minute interviews I conducted, I would manage the process to ensure the candidate had 7-10 minutes to ask me questions. And of course, I would notice if he/she was prepared to ask relevant and insightful questions.
Some candidates would ask me about our corporate culture, but most did not. They missed a great opportunity to gather great information by failing to ask the interviewers about corporate culture.
10 Questions to Consider Asking
So let’s get practical. What are some of the questions you could consider asking? Here are 10 that hit different elements of corporate culture and can give you insights:
- Tell me about a time when your corporate culture shaped one of your decisions?
- How would you describe your corporate culture?
- What does a “bad fit” look like within your organization?
- How do you apply the corporate core values to your every day work?
- What adjectives would you use to describe your corporate culture?
- How does the organization deal with failure? Could you give me an example?
- How would you describe how meetings are typically run in your department?
- How are people held accountable for results? Could you give me an example?
- What was the biggest adjustment for you when you started working here?
- What do people on the team that I’d be joining do for lunch every day?
How the interviewer answers these questions, along with the body language used when communicating his / her answer can tell you quite a bit.
Asking direct questions is the culminating clue for helping you determine if the organization you’re considering will be a good fit for you. I’d encourage you to also check out our workbook, You Are Created for Good Works.
Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.