Remote Interview Tips: How You Can Assess the Company Culture

Remote Interview Tips: How You Can Assess the Company Culture

Just as hiring managers assess candidates during interviews to get a grasp of how their skills and background would align with the corporate culture of the organization, candidates too, have begun to take a second look at the company they are interviewing with to make sure the company culture is a good fit for them.


Company culture is one of the biggest factors you need to consider when it comes to finding the right job. It can affect everything from your productivity and motivation to your relationships with your co-workers. For some, positive company culture is the single most important factor when choosing where to work. In fact, every job seeker has the right to know if they are joining a high-performing organization with the healthy and safe work culture. 


Of course, remote interviews make it rather challenging to assess company culture due to the lack of contextual cues that could otherwise be obtained from being physically present in a corporate setting. But it’s not impossible. As a job seeker in the post-pandemic era, here are a few pointers you could keep in mind to assess company culture even while attending remote interviews.


Look for signs of positive company culture

An organization that promotes a psychologically safe and healthy work environment will have team members who take the responsibility for delivering exceptional results without blaming each other for mistakes. When you join a company, you are joining a group of peers who are all committed to the same mission and goals. You are all expected to contribute your best efforts toward achieving the company’s goals and mission. When one member on the team is struggling to deliver results, the rest of the members will rally around that person and help him/her deliver the best work. This healthy team culture allows all team members to feel comfortable taking risks and delivering exceptional results. This is what you should be looking for before joining any company.


You need to find out if the company culture of the organization you are hoping to work for makes you feel included as part of a team, where you are safe to learn, make mistakes, contribute to the best of your ability and challenge without fearing punishment or embarrassment. 


This is what you can do to find out if the company culture is positive: 

  • Ask the interviewer or hiring manager: “What should I be ideally doing as a remote employee in order to be successful in this job role?”  


Pay attention to the answer. If it is a thoughtful one that gives you clarity on your job role and responsibilities, it is a likely indicator that the company has a positive work culture. Listen carefully if the reply mentions training and tools that are regularly implemented to improve employee performance. This is a great clue that you will not be left to tend to yourself when you face frustrating moments or failures in the workplace. On the other hand, if the hiring manager looks totally clueless and mumbles something you can barely decipher, take it as a serious red flag. 


  • Turn the tables and ask a behavioral question to the interviewer: “Could you tell me about any recent situation that you feel is an excellent example of this company’s great work culture?”


The interviewer should tell you about a real work situation here, elaborating on how the team members were supported by the management and so forth. If the interviewer instead mentions perks and company-sponsored events, run for your life. 


Check how company values are showcased on social media

It’s a common practice for companies to describe their culture in job advertisements and on company websites. But how do you know if these descriptions are actually true? And how can you tell if they’re being 100% honest? 


One of the most important aspects of culture for a company to cultivate is its brand culture. This is the collective perception an employee has of their company’s unique personality and how that personality influences their day-to-day lives. By studying how the company describes its culture on social media, you can learn a lot about a company’s culture from the perspective of a potential employee. 


This is what you can do to decipher the company values on social media: 

Diligently go through the social media posts and the comments left by other people. Look for interaction and collaboration between existing employees on the company’s social media pages and handles. Is anyone responding to queries or negative comments on certain posts? Notice the language and choice of words that reflect the company’s values. These are all insights into the company culture and how the company treats its people. 


Read reviews on Glassdoor and LinkedIn

When you’ve identified the organization that you want to work for, make use of sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn to go through reviews from past and present employees. You can also ask past and present employees to share their experiences of working for the company. This can be a great way to gather intel about the company’s corporate culture before you decide to work there. 


This is what you can do to assess the company culture: 

Once you have gathered enough intel from these reviews on Glassdoor and LinkedIn, ask the interviewer one or all of the following behavioral questions during your scheduled interview:


  • “Could you tell me about your decision-making process, especially in the team that I will be working on if I get lucky and get this job?”


  • “Does the company allow its team members to directly reach out to the higher-ups to discuss changes in process, strategy or design?” 


The openness and freedom the company allows its employees to bring about creativity and innovation through change is a huge reflection of the company’s culture.


Listen to how each interviewer responds

No company can build a successful business without having a clear direction and purpose. Being able to identify toxic company cultures will help you ensure that you don’t end up in an organization that undermines your ability, making you want to make a dash for the exit just a few days after onboarding.


One of the most effective ways to spot toxic culture is to identify incongruence in the way employees answer the same question. This is what you can do to spot a toxic company culture. 


  • During the course of the interview process, you would definitely be interacting online with three or more interviewers/hiring managers and/or future supervisors. Make sure to ask all of them the same questions about company culture, values, decision-making process or level of transparency. 


Everyone you meet should be able to answer your question in a clear and consistent manner. If there is no consistency or if one of them so much as mumbles a reply, you could be staring at a possible toxic work environment. 


Hope these pointers on how you can figure out a company’s culture while attending remote interviews will be helpful for you.


HiCounselor has forged technical advances to transform the hiring landscape for job seekers and recruiters alike. Our career accelerator program provides job seekers with coaching and mentorship from industry leaders employed at FAANG companies while recruiters ally with HiCounselor to empower their hiring strategy and hone in on the best candidates. Learn more about HiCounselor here and reach out to us on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.