In a job interview, you focus entirely on impressing your interviewer and selling them on your professional skills, right?
Not so fast.
In addition to impressing your job interviewer, it’s just as important to interview your potential employer. One hundred percent of companies will conceal their organizational flaws when they’re speaking to top talent, such as yourself.
But every job has its setbacks.
It’s up to you to poke through their veiled, rehearsed business spiel during the interview…so you know what you’re getting into before you sign the offer letter. Asking carefully constructed questions can help you pinpoint the negative aspects of any company.
In fact, if any of your questions result in curious head scratching or eye-shifting, consider that a red flag. “A lack of transparency in the answering of those questions and the attitude management has in answering is a major red flag to watch for,” says Jonathon Poston, leader of business development for Books Setup.
Here are five specific questions that can reveal a terrible company culture:
“Generally speaking, people can’t help venting about bad managers, even in potentially inappropriate situations (thus is the effect of a bad manager),” says Colin McIntosh, business development professional at Spoon.net.
“If the interviewer avoids the question and says something like, ‘Well, you know, there are always challenges but things move along,’ or is even so honest as to let loose a complaint, that’s a culture flag.”
It works both ways. If they really do enjoy working with their manager, you’ll be able to see the genuine happiness.
The answer to this question can be good or bad, depending on your personal preference. If you enjoy working with strangers who turn into friends, you might be really bored or unhappy working in an environment in which no one hangs out after work.
On the other hand, if you prefer to separate work life and personal life, you might feel a little irritated having to go to a few obligatory social events with your colleagues. To each their own on this one. But it helps to know before you sign the dotted line.
If they start reminiscing about their 1-2 week-long randevu in Cape Town or a staycation with their toddlers, chances are, there’s at least a decent amount of work-life balance.
“If you get a sense that new employees are thrown into the deep end without swimming lessons or a life jacket, it's time to ask more questions to make sure you can have a successful start with this organization,” Steere says.
This shows that you’re genuinely interested in performing well in your first 90 days and shrinking the learning curve as much as possible. Lack of procedure or attention to detail to this question could reflect an overall lack of organization.
To follow up and clarify the question a bit further, Steere says to ask: “Is there specific training you provide to every new hire? When does a new hire get his/her first performance feedback?”