How to Respond When Asked "What Is the Work Culture Like Here?"

By Francine Fluetsch on November 10, 2016

As a recruiter, you know you are going to be receiving a lot of questions from students who are potentially interested in working at your company, so you want to be ready for questions about a vast variety of subjects.

One that many students are going to be interested in knowing is what the work culture is like at your office and at your company as a whole. So how exactly do you go about answering this?

The setup:

Let’s start off small and delve into the setup of your office. How the space is laid out will be able to tell the students a lot about the work culture right off the bat.

Do the majority of people sit in cubicles and have their own space, or do you all sit at one giant table and sort of have your stuff wherever it can find a home? A lot of companies are changing it up nowadays, so students will want to know if your work layout is more professional or more on the relaxed side.

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Both variances will attract different students, so you don’t have to worry about losing potential employees. The right ones for your company will be interested in the exact layout that you have going on.

Co-worker goals:

The students will also be interested in the other people they are going to be working with, and what sort of relationships are typically found in your company. Do all the employees hang out in bars after work with one another and text each other on the weekends, or is it more of a work-friendly vibe where everyone is nice but they don’t go out of their way to socialize?

When answering this, give them your honest opinion based on what you have seen happening in your own office, but make sure that it doesn’t come off as an absolute of “yes, every single person hangs out after work hours,” or “nope, no one really makes an effort to be friends outside of the work environment,” because absolutes never really hit all the people who are working for you.

Giving the questioning student a general idea of what the relationship with their coworkers will be is a good way to go, and then it will give the student more of an idea of whether your company will be a good fit or not.

If, for example, they are quite shy and would get anxiety if others were always trying to talk to them and hang out off the clock, they are going to go for a company that is more tuned towards the professional relationships. If, on the other hand, they crave being friends with everyone and are looking for a work environment that will give them lasting friendships, they are going to look for a company where the work culture allows them to be social and to be around others who want that same goal.

Both are good in their own way, just make sure you are selling the right co-worker vibe about your company when the students ask.

Company events:

The events that your company throws will give yet another insight into the work culture that you promote.

Do you throw big Christmas bashes where everyone and their mother is invited? Do you have holiday events that are small and intimate and everyone gets to do a white elephant gift exchange? Do you have monthly events where you take your employees to the lake for a picnic? Whatever it is, your potential employees will want to know about it.

One of my very best friends works at Chef Works, a company that is big on families and keeping their employees happy. She recently invited me to go on a work outing with her where employees would bring their family and friends, enjoy a good BBQ, and enjoy whatever water sports they wanted. Talk about a fun company!

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Some students will crave work outings to bond with their coworkers and higher-ups and really feel like a part of something, while other students will prefer working somewhere where the atmosphere is low-key and they don’t have to tag along to work related things over the weekend.

What’s the general vibe?:

If you’re pressed for time and can’t give the student all of the answers above, just give them an idea of what the general vibe is at your company. Is it more relaxed to where students can clock in and out whenever they please as long as they work their 8 hours? Is it business-casual with a free dress on Fridays? Are there friendly coffee runs between co-workers?

You know the ins and outs of your company, so just sell it for what it is. Be honest and have fun when talking about the vibe that goes on, and you will definitely pique student interest.

These are just some ideas for how to answer that work culture question. If you aren’t yet quite sure how you would answer some, why not take some time and really just observe what the employees are doing as they work and how they interact and the answer will come to you?

By Francine Fluetsch

Uloop Writer
UC Santa Cruz
Hi! I'm Francine and I'm a fourth year Creative Writing major at UC Santa Cruz. I am one of the Campus life columnists on Uloop's National Team and also the campus editor for UCSC. I enjoy reading, writing, and taking selfies with my cat.

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