Hiring managers don’t just want to see that you have the skills to do a job…
The other piece that they look for in the interview process is your attitude and whether you’ll fit into the company’s culture.
This is why you may hear interview questions like:
Coming up, we’ll look at how to convince the interviewer that you’re a great fit for their corporate culture, with sample interview answers, mistakes to avoid, and more.
Below are some of the factors to consider when answering what kind of culture you want to work in.
Company cultures vary based on the following factors:
Some companies have a traditional work environment and workplace culture where a team is led by one manager. The company usually keeps specific tasks within an individual team, and team members look to the one team leader for direction.
Roles and hierarchy are well-defined. Some people lead; others execute the work they’re given.
Yet many companies have begun to utilize a more “flat” organizational structure where people of all levels are making decisions, managing their work to some extent, collaborating with other teams on various projects, etc.
You may hear this described as an egalitarian culture, which simply means a company culture where all are considered equal.
The ideal company culture for you will depend on if you’re looking for more freedom, ability to make decisions, and collaborate across the company, or if you’d rather simply take direction from one manager and make fewer high-level decisions.
You also have company cultures that are faster and slower in terms of company operation and procedures, and more or less focused on innovation.
You have companies that will flaunt a start-up culture, which usually suggests an emphasis on less bureaucracy, faster movement in terms of product development/changes, more willingness to take on risk, and an emphasis on being flexible and creative, etc.
In contrast, a more corporate or traditional work environment may have more formal (and time-consuming) processes for everything from asking for a raise or promotion, to requesting funds or permission for a new project or initiative.
These more traditional companies are focused on following processes/procedures, rather than developing new ways of doing work. They’re more risk-averse in general.
You’ll also notice that some companies have a much more formal workplace culture in terms of dress code, how employees are expected to interact with each other via email, etc.
The industry also impacts company culture. You’re far more likely to find a stiff, traditional corporate culture in a financial company, an insurance company, etc. Whereas, if you’re looking at software companies, scientific companies, e-commerce start-ups, etc., you’ll find a more flexible and modern culture in most cases.
Keep all of the above in mind as you search for jobs, and as you answer any job interview question about the type of culture you prefer to work in.
You don’t have to talk about all of the factors above; it’s okay to pick one area and describe that in your response.
Before answering an interview question like, “What type of company culture do you want to work in?” it’s best to take a few initial steps:
First, research this specific company’s culture so that you know what they offer.
That way, you’re sure to give an answer that matches up with their company values.
Also think about what type of culture and work environment you prefer so you can target those types of companies in your job search.
Ideally, you shouldn’t lie in the interview about your ideal company culture; you should be applying to companies that have a culture that is attractive to you.
Once you’ve researched the company, pick one to three factors that you feel make a positive company culture and that this company seems to offer.
These factors can be based on info you found on their website, LinkedIn and other social media pages, YouTube, news articles, etc. You can also talk to current or past employees if possible.
Once you’ve picked out one or two specific areas that suggest an employer has an ideal company culture for you, you’re ready to craft an interview answer.
Let’s look at some example interview answers next so you can hear what a great response would sound like…
I appreciate when an organization’s culture promotes innovation and the exploration of new ideas. I read a couple of former employee reviews on Glassdoor.com that mentioned this as being encouraged and one of the positive aspects of the company culture here.
Beyond this, I thrive in a positive company culture where employees are engaged, motivated, happy, receiving help in their professional development, and supporting each other. I got the sense that this is that type of place based on some research I did.
Am I right in terms of my impression on this?
I saw on your website that you describe having an egalitarian culture, where all opinions are valued. That sounds like a major positive to me and is something I’m hoping to find in a company.
I also looked at the job description before coming to this job interview to get a further sense of the culture here, and it seems like you offer one of the more innovative cultures in the industry in terms of rolling out many new improvements, leading your competitors in new features, and being willing to test and even fail on some ideas.
That’s the type of environment and culture I’m hoping to find in my next job.
I don’t think that I require one specific type of culture to feel like I’m in my dream job. I mostly care about doing meaningful work and collaborating with great people. So I suppose the team is what makes the culture, for me.
I did some pre-interview research into your company and saw mention of a flat, flexible organizational structure with frequent collaboration between teams, and team members participating in multiple projects, which sounds great.
If my impression is correct about how your company culture works, then I’d say your firm has the type of culture I want to be a part of.
I’d like to work in a company culture that’s collaborative and supportive of employees, and encourages great communication.
I also prefer a less-bureaucratic structure where new ideas can be implemented quickly, and where managers act as role models rather than just top-down leaders.
I believe one aspect of great company culture is open communication, with leaders being open to questions and suggestions.
I also like when a company encourages employees to get involved in volunteer work to help local communities. I saw a mention of this on your company website last night while doing some research, which was fantastic to see.
My ideal company culture is an environment where people are free to express ideas and opinions, and where everyone collaborates instead of competing. It’s a work environment that rewards employees for being distinctive individuals who bring unique ideas and perspectives. I’m also passionate about self-improvement and professional development, so I’d love to find a company that encourages employees to continue learning, getting certifications, and picking up new skills.
My ideal company culture is an innovative environment and a business where I’m excited about the company’s mission. That’s one reason I thought to apply here; I looked at many tech companies here in Boston, and your mission and product are some of the most exciting and impactful that I saw. It seems like your company is helping the community and making a difference in people’s lives, not just accomplishing business goals.
I like a company culture that supports and encourages employee growth, whether it’s through great training, continuing education, a mentorship program, or other methods.
That’s something my last job did well. My employer assigned me a mentor when I was new in the organization, which is something they do for all team members.
I don’t necessarily need a mentor, but I’d like to find a company with those same values, where new employees are made to feel welcome and given the training needed to succeed, and where employee experience is a part of the company’s strategy.
I read on your website that you have a comprehensive three-week training program and also offer tuition reimbursement for continuing education, so I thought your company sounded like a great cultural fit.
I prefer a more traditional culture with a well-defined hierarchy, where well-qualified individuals lead and those who report to them perform tasks as assigned. I’ve enjoyed this in the past as an employee and feel it’s where I do my best work.
I read various employee reviews online and saw that your company seems to offer this structure. I also saw that employees report high job satisfaction here, which is fantastic to see.
The idea when answering any interview question is to show that you’re a good fit for their role.
You can decide later if you want the job, but your goal is to move to the next step in the interview process and get that job offer.
So if you’re not sure about an organization’s culture, you don’t want to take big risks in your answer.
The less sure you are of how this organization is set up, the more general your answer should be.
For example, you could discuss how you’re flexible and have enjoyed a few different organizations in the past, despite them having different cultures.
Or you can say that you’re interested in becoming someone who can work well in many different office cultures, but in the past, you’ve enjoyed cultures that featured ___ and ___.
This type of answer gives you a little room to show an employer that you’ll fit into their role, even if you’re not sure of their exact culture yet.
However, don’t give a meaningless answer like, “I enjoy every company culture.”
You need to give the interviewer more than that.
The idea with the strategy above is simply to avoid phrases that will box you in, such as, “I only like a company culture that offers ___.”
Or, “The only type of business culture that I perform well in is ___.”
If you’ve read the tips and sample answers above, you know how to answer the type of company culture you want to work in.
You also know how to make sure your answer matches the organization you’re interviewing with so that you don’t scare an employer off when responding to this interview question.
Remember to always research their organization and workplace environment before going into the interview.
Consider also reading online company reviews from past employees to gain further insight into the organization.
Then, name one to three aspects of a workplace culture that you enjoy, and ideally, point out why you feel their company seems to offer those work aspects.
If you follow those steps above, review the example answers we’ve looked at, and practice your own response, you’ll be ready to ace this interview question and impress the interviewer.
Related interview questions:
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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