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Finding Culture Fit: Interviewing your Interviewer

Plenty of articles are written about employers recruiting for culture fit, but it's harder to find advice from the other side of the table. It is just as difficult for you to get a taste of company culture in a short series of interviews as it is for them to evaluate your technical skills and social fit with the team. However, figuring out early whether a company's values align with yours can save you months, or even years, of tension and frustration on the job. The hardest part comes down to __asking the right questions__ (without sounding pushy) and deciphering the sometimes-nebulous answers! Here's an example of a telling exchange: > __Candidate: "How does your company value work-life balance?"__ > __Interviewer: "Well, we get evenings and weekends off, if that's what you mean!"__ (after sending the candidate a follow-up email at 11pm the night before) __Translation:__ No, getting evenings and weekends off is not what you meant. Listen for concrete, meaningful examples of how a company either lets their employees strike a balance and recharge outside of work, or how they work employees into the ground. Other tips? Try to make contact with employees who are in similar roles, or even on the same team as the position you're targeting. They will often give the unfiltered truth and do not have to worry about the implications of communicating through an HR channel. You can also ask probing questions about whether or not the person you're talking to values spending time with his/her coworkers outside of work. Once you find a good culture fit, you'll reap the benefits of a positive, upward career spiral.

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