Reading Corporate Culture During Interview

Kit-Tong writes:
How does one get a sense of the corporate culture during an interview? Are there questions to ask or any observations that I should be more aware of during the short 1-2 hours interview period ? I am a software developer.

The Career Doctor responds:
First let me congratulate you on wanting to learn more about becoming a better interviewee. The interview is such a critical time for both the employer and the job-seeker and the better prepared you are for your interview the more likely you will progress to the next step — and hopefully a job offer.
What is corporate culture? At its most basic it’s described as the personality of an organization or simply as “how things are done around here.” It guides how employees think act and feel. Corporate culture is a broad term used to define the unique personality or character of a particular company or organization and includes such elements as core values and beliefs corporate ethics and rules of behavior.
Why is understanding the employer’s corporate culture important? Because the organization’s culture will affect you in many many ways such as: hours worked per day and per week availability of options such as flextime and telecommuting how people interact with each other in the workplace how people dress for work benefits offered employees office space training and professional development opportunities perks — just about everything related to your time at work.
How can you learn more about the climate and culture of companies? By observing all the employees while at the interview — what they wear how they relate to each other what their office space looks like. You can also learn more about an organization’s culture by going to the company’s Web site taking informational tours speaking with people who work for the company reading annual reports and company newsletters researching the company in business and industry journals and interviewing human resource personnel or recruiters.
Get even more advice and resources about understanding corporate culture by reading my article Uncovering
a Company’s Corporate Culture is a Critical Task for Job-Seekers
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