How to Decode Company Culture During the Remote Interview Process?
When assessing whether or not a job is a good fit for you, there are a number of things you need to consider. You need a salary that matches your expectations, responsibilities that appeal to you, and a manager who you think you can work well with. But there is another important factor that carries a lot of weight: the corporate culture. The work environment has a major influence on the way you work and how satisfied you are in your new job. Understanding the corporate culture is important because you not only want to join a company in which you want to work, but also one in which you can thrive. Corporate culture is difficult to assess during the hiring process – and even more so when that hiring process takes place remotely.
What if all of your job interviews are video chats and you don’t meet anyone from the company in person or ever walk into the office? Is there a corporate culture at all if the employees don’t work side by side? Understanding corporate culture from a distance adds an additional layer of complexity to the hiring process.
What should you look out for when assessing the company culture when you interview? Here are five tips to help you understand and evaluate the corporate culture before accepting a job offer – even if it’s unlikely that you will enter the office anytime soon.
You likely have a list of must-haves to look for in your next position. This includes not only the most important factors such as salary and social benefits, but also the values that the company should prioritize and the cultural aspects that you agree with. This preparatory work is especially important if you are going through the application process remotely.
Trying to understand every aspect of corporate culture through video chat and internet research alone may feel impossible. So if you focus on what is most important to you, you can check a few things off your list. Reduce your expectations to three non-negotiables. This allows you to focus on deciphering cultural clues related to your three most important values.
Once you know what specific cultural elements you want your new business to have, it’s time to do your research. A remote hiring process can leave you feeling disadvantaged, but it doesn’t have to be. You have numerous resources to understand the inner workings of the team and the atmosphere of a company. In addition, many of the research techniques you use during a “typical” hiring process are still applicable.
You can browse online resources:
Website: Take a close look at the company’s website to understand how it describes its culture externally.
Blog: The company may have posted relevant content that will allow you a behind-the-scenes look at the company.
Social media: Here you can assess the overall tone “the company” interacts with.
LinkedIn: Profiles on LinkedIn contain information from (former) employees who not only say a lot about their personal experiences, but also about the overarching cultural values of the company.
Employee Reviews: Platforms on which previous, current, or potential employees post reviews can also highlight some elements of corporate culture.
There is no shortage of resources to sift through. Make sure to take into account the non-negotiable items that you identified beforehand. You can even use keywords in your search to make this process even easier. Search a company’s reviews for keywords like “remote” or “values” to filter out the employee experience.
Nobody has a better insight into the corporate culture than the employees who work or have worked there. When you get in touch with current and / or former team members, you get a look behind the scenes.
You can ask the person leading your hiring process if they can introduce you to some of the employees. They may be ready to answer a few questions about corporate culture for you. Not only does it show your interest in the company, but also that you are someone who takes initiative. If you’d rather not contact the hiring manager directly about this, you can use LinkedIn to search for current and former employees in the department you want to join. Network with these people and politely ask them if they would answer any questions you might have about the company.
At the end of the interview, you should have the opportunity to ask questions. This is your chance to ask directly about the aspects that are most important to you. Don’t ask general questions like “tell me about your company culture”. For questions like this you will only be referred to some scripts and brochures. Instead, ask questions that give you a real feel for the environment and the people you may interact with on a regular basis. Return to the cultural qualities that you identified as important to you and address those specific traits.
Remember, asking questions at the end of the interview isn’t just a chance for you to look good and demonstrate your commitment to the hiring process. It’s also a way to get valuable information that you need to make an informed decision about whether or not to work there.
Ultimately, the hiring process should give you some insight into how the company treats not only its applicants, but its employees as well. How they approach the process can also be an indication of how they deal with all other matters.
Some things worth observing during the remote hiring process are:
Organization: When the hiring process is disorganized and full of misunderstandings and frustrations, work in the company can be the same.
Communication: The interview process is also an opportunity to assess the company’s communication skills. What tools did you use? How did the communication with you come about?
Work-life balance: Do you receive emails from a hiring manager in the middle of the night? Or at the weekend? This could be an indicator that their culture is not prioritizing downtime. Keep in mind, however, that one of the potential benefits of working remotely is control over your schedule, which means that employees may actually prefer to work at this time and appreciate that flexibility.
Always keep in mind that the hiring process for a company is a direct reflection of their values and approach to work. Understanding the company culture before actually working there is a challenge – especially if the hiring process or the job itself is remote. Because the company culture shapes so much of the employee experience – it is well worth the effort understanding it.
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