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3 'Questions with a Capital Q' on culture fit for job searchers

Choice, change and control: leverage, each and every time.
Choice, change and control: leverage, each and every time.


There are 3 ‘Points of Query’ (PoQs) in any job search that will help you determine whether you will be a success if you take the job. The 3 PoQs don’t focus on whether you can do the job. It’s assumed. They focus on whether you fit the culture of the organization that is offering you the job.


Colloquially, culture is ‘how we do things around here.’ Your mission as a job seeker is to determine the following: ‘Is how I do things ‘simpatico’ with how you do things?’ In other words, am I a ‘values, beliefs and practice’ fit in your organization?


Here are the 3 PoQs (with sample questions) that reflect culture fit:

PoQ 1: Choice. The obvious question for job seekers to ask is: 'How do you make decisions in your organization (or on your team, etc.)?' It’s important to become aware of, understand and buy-into how decisions are made. Decision-making is the ‘heart’ of fit.

PoQ 2: Change. During the interview process, ask for specific examples of how change is managed in the organization. For example, 'What happened when you upgraded your network?' 'What happened when you reorganized the call center?' 'What happened when the new COO came on board?'

How is change managed at individual, team and organizational levels? What worked? What didn’t? Are you able to manage change in like manner? A yes points to culture fit. A no points to out of sync.

PoQ 3: Control. The direct question to ask to determine who controls what in the organization is the following: Q1) 'How do you get the results you want?' The following indirect question is more important and yields greater clarity: Q2) 'What happens when something goes wrong and you don’t get the results you want?'

The answers to Q2 will help you understand how mistakes are managed in the organization which will tell you how its control orientation is used. Specifically, it will point out a culture of ‘blame and shame’ or a culture of ‘growth and learning;' two vastly different control orientations. If the culture has a 'muddled' control orientation (e.g., a 'do as I say and not as I do' culture), you'll see it in the answers to Q2 as well.


Ask yourself the following question before you begin your job search: Where (in what kind of organizational culture) will I thrive? Write your answer down. Let it frame your job search and guide you in making a decision about whether to take a job or not.

Choose to query. Choose to fit. Choose to thrive.

Organizational communication maven by day. Food, wine and beer buff by night. World traveler. Entrepreneurial spirit. Contact Eroca Gabriel, a former Fortune 100 ‘people and culture’ consultant, at