One of my favorites is, "What gets rewarded here?" I have learned some interesting things about companies when I ask this, because they can hand you their mission and values statement, and talk about their culture, but often what earns people raises and promotions in a company is a great proxy for the true culture and values.
Interesting one. Do you think it is often different - the written values and what gets rewarded?
Often! I actually got this question out of an article in some Harvard Business Review or similar publication. If I remember right, it's from a consultant who often asks companies if their values and their habits/practices align, and they say they do. Then the next question is let's make a list of what the values are--more in terms of what are the kinds of people you consider "Uber people" or "Google people" or whatever company it is--and they put that on a big whiteboard. Then they go to an empty whiteboard and write a list of what actually gets rewarded. The article said the difference between the two boards often triggers an "aha!" moment and the company realigns what gets rewarded with what they want their values to be.
I see, very interesting, thank you.
Do you think they will display such a misalignment on an interview though? It seems to me when it is an exercise to understand their values better, they would be more honest than on an interview, what do you think?
My experience has been that when you ask people on an interview it is such an unexpected question they are pretty honest. Either that, or you can sense the spin in what they're saying.
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