Company culture is one of the buzzwords of the 21st century. Each organization tries to set some values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterize it in the eyes of a public. Something an ideal job candidate should resonate with, and perhaps it should be also one of the reasons why they want to work for the company. That’s why they ask about it in an interview. Just like with many other things in a corporate sphere, however, the reality is often far from the promises….

Just think about it for a while: It is really possible to maintain a certain culture in a company with a hundred, thousand, or even ten thousand employees? And it is even doable in a typical diverse team, (diversity in the workplace is another buzzword), where men and women of different faiths, backgrounds, and personalities meet and work together?

It is not possible, and it rarely works. In reality the so called “company culture” is only a marketing tool, something businesses promote to attract a certain type of job applicants. Or, in a better case, it’s an ideal–something you can believe in and hope for, but never really reach. That’s what they call the pursuit of perfection.

And yet they will often ask you about it in an interview, trying to find out if you’d fit in. It doesn’t make much sense in the broader context, but not everything has to make sense in the interviews. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this questions. Do not forget to check also my notes below the answers, where I explain how to choose the perfect one for you.

 

7 sample answers to “What is your ideal company culture?” interview question

  1. The ideal place for me is one where people support and encourage each other. A place where they work as a team, and feedback flows freely in all directions. I thrive in places where I can rely on the others, and at the same time they can rely on me. On the contrary, the worst thing–and I experienced it in my last job, is when there are many small “wars” between different teams or even within the same team. That’s really a destructive environment and I do not feel good working in such. It’s the reason no. 1 why I left my last job.
  2. The ideal company culture is one in which I can keep growing, both as a human being and as an employee. Place where they put a lot of emphasis on continuous learning, and where you get a chance to work on complex projects, and do not just repeat the same set of tasks day after day, month after month, like a monkey. I have done my research and feel that your company meets the criteria. You promote learning, diversity, and creativity. All three resonate with me, and I’d love to work in such a place.
  3. Customer obsession is my ideal company culture. And you are my no. 1 choice, because from my shopping experience with Amazon, I can really feel that these aren’t just empty words. I’d love to work in a place where profit isn’t the most important thing. A place where they understand that value comes first. Once we deliver a superb value to the customer each and every time, the profit will undoubtedly come–for both the corporation and the employees. That’s what I believe into, and I’m sure I’d fit here with my attitude.

 

  1. To be honest, I do not believe much in a company culture. Sure, each place has some values, and offers some perks to the employees. But at the end of the day, each company is a small cosmos, with many different managers and teams, and most of them are pretty diverse. You cannot instill values to all employees, doesn’t matter how hard you try. And hence instead of relying on some values or company culture, I focus on my own attitude. I try to be attentive to the needs and feeling of my colleagues, and receptive to feedback from anyone in the company. And of course I try to give my very best to each task I am working on. Honestly I believe that I won’t get lost in any place with my attitude to work and to people.
  2. I prefer a hierarchy culture. I like to know who my boss is, and what I am supposed to, who I report to. It’s not my cup of coffee to have 7 different bosses, everyone demanding something from me, dealing with a lot of conflicting priorities. I have this experience, and honestly I was spending most of my time just on the call with the superiors. Eventually I fell behind with the schedule, and often wasn’t sure what to do next. That’s not something for me, and I do not consider it an effective way of running a business either.
  3. I really like the concept of clan culture, though I am not sure if it works well in reality. It’s always nice belonging somewhere, to a team, family, or a clan if you want. Having a mutual purpose, our goals and our enemies, knowing what we are fighting for–it really helps with motivation. It feels great to share success with your team mates, but also to have someone who will encourage you when things do not go well, who will have a warm word for you when you need it the most–just like in a family. That’s a really nice concept, and I know you promote it in your business. I’d love to see how it works in reality, and become a member of the clan.
  4. Look, I’ve been in sales long enough. I visited dozens of corporations and can tell you that company culture is just a buzzword. Having said that, what really matters to me is working in a results-driven team. I’m not a kind of guy who’d enjoy long daily meetings and presentations and work on in-detail reports and stuff. I like to be out there, or on the call, building rapport with the clients, closing deals. And I like to be rewarded according to the volume of sales I bring to the company. That’s what matters for me, and that’s what we can realistically measure. Whether a business promotes this or that value or attitude to something doesn’t interest me much, because I know it’s never true across the entire organization anyway. It’s impossible to achieve it in the diverse world we live in….

 

Your research will help you to find the right answer

You should do your homework. Check the website of the company, or google for “[company name] mission statement“, or “[company name] culture“. Checking their social media channels, and values they promote on them, will also help you understand their corporate identity and culture.

Then you can refer to these values, attitudes, and principles, once they ask you about your ideal company culture. But do not make it obvious that you are just repeating things you found on their website. Try to refer to the same values, but in a descriptive way, just like I do in my sample answers.

* Special Tip: This isn’t the only difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!

Do not be afraid to be unconventional

At the end of the day, each company loves to hire creative managers and engineers, people who can think outside of the box, bring new ideas onboard, people who do not blindly follow the crowds… One way of showing them that you believe to this elite group is using some unconventional answers in an interview.

Why not saying that a company culture is a just a buzzword, that you do not believe in the concept in our diverse corporate world? Check sample answer no. 7 as an example of expressing this attitude. Or you can say that you do not care about the company culture, and focus on your own attitude to your tasks and colleagues. See sample answer no. 7 for inspiration.

Be yourself. Tell them what you think, or even change the question. Mediocre answers won’t take you far, especially when you compete for a job with dozens of other applicants–which is the case for many great jobs.

 

Negative experience from your last job can serve as an inspiration for your answer

Most people do not seek a new job because they want to work in a certain company. They seek a new job because they can’t stand working with their present employer anymore. And this is often because of the conflicts they have with other employees, heavy workload, need to work overtime non-stop, and for other reasons.

You can base your description of an ideal working environment on your experience. Sample answers no. 1 and no. 5 are great examples of this attitude. It’s simply about finding the reason why you cannot stand your present employment anymore (or could not stand your last job), translate it into values or “company culture”, and say that you are looking for an exact opposite in your new job…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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