A question typically posed by job candidates is “How can I assess an organization’s culture?” After all, the company’s first interview is typically to assess whether you’re a “fit” for their culture. So naturally, you as the candidate should be just as interested in getting a better feel for their culture.
Cultural artifacts demonstrate values
You can, however, tell a lot about an organization’s culture based on its artifacts. Organizational Psychology Edgar Schein defined cultural artifacts as the aspects of an organization’s culture which can be easily discerned but not always clearly understood.
These include (but aren’t limited to) :
- the technology used
- their dress code
- company perks
- schedule flexibility
- leadership hierarchy
- and other patterns of behavior
Ask this question for culture insights
One question job candidates can ask their interviewers is “Tell me about your favorite Annual Themed Weeks.” After the interviewer composes themselves with the seemingly obligatory “that’s a good question“. They’ll then likely answer with some of these classics: Safety, Diversity, Health & Wellness, Quality, and Community Involvement.
Annual themed weeks give you that all-important window into discovering what the company really values and celebrates.
My top 5 annual themed weeks
- Innovation & Creativity: hack-a-thons, brainstorming workshops, pitch contests, innovation games, idea-thons, design sprints, prototyping, experimentation
- Inclusion & Diversity: company/building wide icebreaker, unconscious bias, walk in their shoes, round tables discussions, random cafeteria seating
- Customer Appreciation: random acts of customer delight, customer breakfasts / lunch, conference/summit with an awards gala
- Mental Wellness Awareness: meditation training, yoga classes, workshops, associate profiles, immersive experience simulation
- Employee Appreciation: company swag bags, leaders make dept shoutout videos, lunch concert, top leader(s) in each building greet associates on arrival, awards gala
I encourage you to make a list of your top 5 themed weeks. Your top 5 will undoubtedly align with what you value most out of work life. Compare your list with what you hear from your interviewers. This will give you a qualitative way to assess how well the prospective company’s culture aligns with your values.
Go ahead and share your top 5 in the comments below!