During our interview process we ask candidates what is most important to them when interviewing with firms and the most popular answer is “good cultural fit.” But what exactly does that mean? And how do you, as the job seeker, determine what is a good culture fit with a potential firm?
It’s common that firms will ask candidates behavioral questions that will help them determine a good cultural fit for their firm. This process can be less difficult for them because they know their philosophies, they have a good understanding of the personalities in the office, and likely know the soft skills they want the new hire to have. But for the candidate interviewing the firm – it might not be as clear cut. That is until you start asking the right type of questions.
Here are a few suggestions and questions to consider when interviewing a firm for cultural fit:
People: Think about the type of people that will promote your productivity. Are you open to working in an office where all doors remain closed and people keep to themselves? Or do you prefer a more collaborative environment? Question to ask yourself – do you enjoy working alone, or working with others? You may get to know the hiring manager(s) a bit more by asking who they are most close to in the office to get a sense of their personality. Don’t be scared to ask to chat with a key employee in the office to get their take on what an average day looks like at the firm. By talking to more people in the interview process, you will likely start getting a good sense of the various personalities.
Work/Life Balance: Company culture does impact your lifestyle. For example, the culture might be that no one leaves before the CEO or that everyone gets kicked out of the building at 6 pm. Feel free to ask what a normal schedule looks like in different seasons (cough cough, tax season, cough cough). Some firms may offer catered meals during lunch and dinner, which sounds great, unless you’d rather spend that time with your family. When you’re thinking about company culture, it’s just about how it will affect you at work, but also at home. Don’t forget about that.
Environment/Office: Figure out what type of environment really motivates you. Will you work well in a “cool” office with no walls, ping-pong tables and bean bag chairs, or will you thrive working at a desk with your own personal space and fewer interruptions?
Social Activities: How does the firm celebrate birthdays? Do you like celebrating with your team over lunch, or do you prefer a verbal “happy birthday” in passing? Does the team bond with each other outside of the workplace? If so, how and how often? If charity is important to you, figure out if the firm shares the same philosophy as you. You may also think about professional development. Will you be attending financial planning conferences alone, or as part of the team?
Determining good cultural fit comes down to understanding what your career values are. Don’t forget that YOU play a big part in the interview process so don’t be afraid to ask questions. You will be doing yourself a big favor!