During a job interview, an applicant may ask you a question like, “How would you describe the atmosphere at the company Is it fairly formal or more laid-back and informal”
The applicant asks this question to get a sense of what to expect during the day-to-day operations of the job. He may prefer an atmosphere where coworkers communicate with each other on a formal basis, or he may prefer a more relaxed atmosphere. Certain things that can signal a formal or informal atmosphere are dress code, communication styles and whether workers punch a clock or are freer to come and go as they please.
Points to Emphasize
When you answer this question, you’ll want to paint an accurate picture of the workplace.
- You can state that the company lies somewhere in the middle, if this is a true statement.
- If you answer “formal,” give some examples of the formalities that the applicant should expect on the job.
- If you answer “informal,” let the applicant know in what specific ways the atmosphere is informal.
- Feel free to follow up with a question of your own, asking which type of atmosphere the applicant prefers in order to help determine your answer.
Employees usually have individual preferences regarding the atmosphere of a workplace. Any information you can give the applicant will help him decide if he can see himself in the job.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
If you’re not prepared for this question or aren’t sure why the applicant is asking, you may be unsure how to answer. Follow these guidelines to avoid potential pitfalls:
- Don’t be too extreme in your answer unless it’s an accurate reflection of the workplace.
- Try not to amend your answer to the whims of the applicant, but instead answer truthfully.
- Avoid assuming that the applicant is not a serious worker if he prefers a more laid back atmosphere.
- Conversely, someone who prefers a more formal atmosphere is not necessarily rigid or impersonal.
To answer this question honestly, you’ll want to avoid beating around the bush or nor being clear in your response.
A great answer to a question about the atmosphere of a workplace is as follows:
We work somewhere in between a laid back atmosphere and a formal one. We have a semi-formal dress code and expect our workers to arrive at a certain time. However, we understand that our employees lead human lives and sometimes need to arrive late. We’re pretty adamant about responsibility and respecting those in authority, but we also do fun things like barbeques and nights at the pub.
An applicant wants to get an idea of the workplace before arriving on the first day, and this question is one that can help him know what would be expected of him.