Company culture matters.
That’s according to Debra Bednar-Clark, CEO and founder of career and leadership coaching firm DB+co. Before launching her own business, she spent time at Facebook as its global head of strategy and growth, and at Microsoft as the director of US market strategy and engagement.
“One thing I learned later in my career is don’t underestimate the importance of culture,” she told Business Insider when asked about her best interview advice for job applicants. “At its core, this is the energy you’re going to be immersed in every day, and it can fuel or drain you. You need to make sure your values and the company are aligned.”
Bednar-Clark said you can start assessing your potential new employer’s culture before you step foot on the premises, by looking into the mission and management team. In the case of Facebook, she said, a job applicant could read the S-1 letter CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote when the company went public, and watch the open town hall meetings he conducts and broadcasts to get a feel for the company’s driving force.
After conducting your research, Bednar-Clark recommends taking stock of your surroundings before you launch into your why-you-should-hire-me spiel. “When you walk in the door you should be paying attention to the feel of the office,” she said. “How are you greeted? How is the lighting? How do you feel when you walk in? How are the desks set up? It can say a lot if you have an open space with people working together trying to solve problems or closed cubicles — I’m not saying one is better, but they’re different feelings.”
Once you’re sitting across from your interviewer or interviewers, there are key questions you can ask, she said. “If one of your values is well-being, it’s important to suss that out in the interview, because the culture is going to have a big impact on your well-being,” she said. “Just to understand the programs that might be in place. Do they support mindfulness yoga training? Are there discounted gym memberships?”
Bednar-Clark said these questions probably won’t come as a surprise to your interviewers. “One thing I’m definitely noticing in my own business, working with leaders, is that they’re more and more understanding the importance of culture and looking to learn how to put those programs in place.”
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