5 Company Culture Questions to Find Your Best 'Culture Fit' Throughout the Job Search

two workers laughing


Meredith Schneider for Hive
Meredith Schneider for Hive
May 29, 2024 at 1:59AM UTC
Being curious is a job skill that has been known to drive innovation across industries. Those that are naturally curious should absolutely include that skill in their application paperwork. However, demonstrating that curiosity in your interview will help you to learn a lot more about the company you are applying to, the culture of the office space, and the expectations of your position. Your curiosity and the way that it is framed will prove to the hiring manager that you are upfront, productive, and can present yourself in a professional manner. Not only what you ask, but how tactfully you ask it, may be observed and assessed during the interview. 

What is Company Culture?

What is one of the most important things a set of questions can help you learn about during an interview? The company’s culture, and how your personality and experience may fit into it all.
Company culture – or “organizational culture” in some spaces – is the result of shared ideals, functions, and beliefs that unify how each employee of the company is expected to move through – and contribute to – the work environment. It is comprised of standards, principals, and dedication to the product, brand, and team. 
You are a talented individual who deserves to be working toward your career goals within a space that inspires you and aligns with your vision. What do you expect of your future coworkers? What type of manager do you want to work with? Be sure to prepare for interviews by taking note of what you desire and require in your workspace. 

Culture-Specific Questions

Below, you will find a host of questions we suggest asking during the interview process. You may find that some are not as appropriate for a first-round interview with your assigned hiring manager, but may be important to follow up with after the interview or during a second or third-round discussion. Keep in mind that these questions are just as much for your benefit as they are for Human Resources. 

What are the company’s values?

In most scenarios – and especially if you want a competitive edge – you will have done (at least) precursory research into the company in advance of the interview process. Many brands will have included their mission and values somewhere on their website, social media, or original job posting. However, this information is not always easily accessible. In those instances, you will want to ask this question specifically.
In the event that you have read up on the company’s values, you may have to clarify questions. This is because, admittedly, many companies develop value statements that are full of keyword-heavy verbiage that doesn’t always entirely make sense. Or, the particular verbiage used indicates something different than what you notice about the brand itself. Be sure to follow up and ask those questions as well. 

What is the work environment like?

If you are lucky enough to interview an HR manager that works in the office with your potential team or another manager or colleague from the same space, then you will be able to ask them personally about the work environment itself. In hybrid and in-person work instances, this can be very valuable in that they will certainly focus on the things that make them the happiest. Seeing the way their face lights up or their expression falls as they discuss specifics can be very insightful.
The work environment question can also be pretty valuable when interviewing for a remote position. Something like: “What is a regular workday like?” or “How interactive are we on a daily basis?” can maybe cater to this working style a little bit better. It will help you to understand the communication and workflow expectations when logged online, at the very least. Be sure to cater the question to your needs. 

What is the leadership style of my direct report?

While understanding your office environment or team can be very insightful information when considering a new position, knowing how the person you report to directly thinks and acts could be just as informative. Do you want to work for someone who expects you to understand what they are saying, even if they can’t articulate it correctly? Are they impatient? Do they thrive on micro-managing their colleagues? Do they enjoy what they do?
These questions and more can be answered by this simple question. The best part? You can keep it in your back pocket for several interview sessions if you’d like. Asking the hiring manager about your boss’ leadership style can possibly help you understand why they were hired, and how they have improved the work environment over time. Asking your hiring manager about their leadership style could help them be a little self-reflective, and may even inspire a change in how they handle things.

How are top-earning or high-efficiency employees rewarded?

As we (slowly) bow out of hustle culture and all of its far-reaching and negative side effects, we begin to understand how impactful our work is in the grand scheme of things. When we pull back and do only the work required by our contracts, we can better understand our energy and a healthy capacity to work for our individual selves. 
In these cases especially, we may find that we have a little more vim and vigor to apply ourselves and work efficiently. If you were to go above and beyond in any particular instance or for a specific project, how would that be rewarded? If you are creating press briefs at twice the speed of your colleagues, is there a higher earning structure, bonus options, or other benefits to operating at double their speed?
This question or another equivalent will hopefully shed light on additional benefits and bonus opportunities that your company has prepared for its workers. If there are no reward offers, it may help them consider more incentives for their employees moving forward.

Does the company organize extracurricular activities or nonprofit work?

By now, you are no stranger to the fact that companies have been touting “culture” a lot different over the last two decades than they had the resources to previously. Team events – both during and after work hours – often include birthdays, baby and wedding showers, intramural sports, and happy hours. After all, these are the people you spend a large amount of your life alongside or operating in tandem with.
This question can help you to understand what level of socialization may be expected of workers at the company. Are you close enough to know each other’s families? Is this a more playful environment? Including the nonprofit part of the question not only makes you look like you expect to work to improve the immediate community, but it also allows you to do some research on whatever food kitchen, nonprofit, or community they may belong to. This work often directly reflects the company’s values.
This article originally appeared in Hive — the world's first democratically built productivity platform. Learn more at Hive.com.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for finding the best 'culture fit' during the job search? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always