The best questions about company culture to ask your job interviewer, says hiring expert

Want to know the insid­er and tricks of a work­place? Ask about them in your next job inter­view, says Chris­tine Cruzver­gara, chief edu­ca­tion offi­cer at Hand­shake.

The for­mer col­lege career coun­selor has advised thou­sands of stu­dents at Welles­ley, George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty, George­town, George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty and now through Hand­shake, a career resource for stu­dents and recent grads.

Here are her two favorite ques­tions to ask in a job inter­view that will help you uncov­er any major red flags, and maybe a few green ones, before you accept an offer.

What are some unspoken rules in this workplace?

Cruzver­gara’s first favorite ques­tion gets down to brass tacks: What are some of the unspo­ken rules in this work­place?

“That’s always real­ly help­ful in under­stand­ing the real of the orga­ni­za­tion,” she says. Ask this of mul­ti­ple peo­ple through the inter­view process and check, “do peo­ple all say the same thing, or do they say dif­fer­ent things?”

If there’s con­sis­ten­cy across every­one’s answers, man­agers to peers to peo­ple who might report to you, then the cul­ture tru­ly runs deep, Cruzver­gara says.

Then again, you might hear dif­fer­ent answers by senior­i­ty.

“Some of the unspo­ken rules by the senior peo­ple told me one set of cul­tur­al [expec­ta­tions] that I need­ed to know, and from my team or from the more junior peo­ple, it was some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Cruzver­gara says. “That taught me that I was walk­ing into an envi­ron­ment where the expe­ri­ence of the com­pa­ny might vary depend­ing on what lev­el you’re com­ing in.”

DON’T MISS: The ulti­mate to acing your inter­view and land­ing your dream job

That’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly good or bad, she adds, but is some­thing to be aware of when you’re new.

clue you can get from this ques­tion is what strengths or weak­ness­es you’ll need to pre­pare for. Cruzver­gara learned dur­ing her job inter­view at Hand­shake that it’s a “doc- and deck-heavy cul­ture.” So if you’re not a good writer, work­ing there can be chal­leng­ing, she says.

“If you can’t write it down, get it in a brief, cir­cu­late it, get peo­ple to like chime in on it, your idea is prob­a­bly going to die,” she says. That “unspo­ken rule” let her know she’d need to be com­fort­able writ­ing a lot for her job, and that to pitch ideas, she’d have to get the most impor­tant details on paper quick­ly.

These types of rules are rarely brought up proac­tive­ly in job inter­views, Cruzver­gara says, but can tell you a lot about a team’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion style.

Pay spe­cial atten­tion to respons­es from the peo­ple who would be your imme­di­ate team mem­bers, like your peers or super­vi­sor, as those norms imme­di­ate­ly when you start your job and can impact your day-to-day.

How are decisions made in this organization?

Cruzver­gara says anoth­er ques­tion can help you gauge the work envi­ron­ment of a new com­pa­ny: How are deci­sions made? Who is usu­al­ly involved, and how long does it take?

That can tell you a lot about whether you’ll like it there, Cruzver­gara says. For exam­ple, if you tend to like more demo­c­ra­t­ic envi­ron­ments and a man­ag­er tells you deci­sions are made top-down from the C‑suite, that might frus­trat­ing for you. On the oth­er hand, if you val­ue speed and effi­cien­cy over every­one weigh­ing in, going into envi­ron­ment where deci­sions are made after sev­er­al rounds of meet­ings “could dri­ve you absolute­ly crazy,” Cruzver­gara says.

Not sure what style suits you? Look to two places, Cruzver­gara sug­gests.

First, how were deci­sions made in your ? For exam­ple, were your par­ents more uni­lat­er­al and “every­thing I say ?” Next, how did you feel about that? Did you rebel, or did you go along with things?

Sec­ond, how were deci­sions made at school, like for stu­dent groups, group , or when play­ing a sport?

For exam­ple, you might recall you hat­ed when you could­n’t reach a deci­sion on a team because every­one need­ed to voice their opin­ion and no one took the lead to move things for­ward. Or, you might have dis­liked when one per­son took the lead on a group project and did­n’t let every­one par­tic­i­pate.

Those are real­ly good indi­ca­tors of how you might have felt in dif­fer­ent group envi­ron­ments, and how you might feel in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions at work, Cruzver­gara says.

None of these ques­tions and respons­es mean any­thing if you don’t do a lit­tle self-reflect­ing about your val­ues, your wants in a work set­ting, and an under­stand­ing of how you work best, she adds.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Inter­view to learn what hir­ing man­agers are real­ly look­ing for, body lan­guage tech­niques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It read­ers can save 25% with dis­count code 25OFF.

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