Why Ask About Company Culture in a Job Interview
In Chapter 13 of 18 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, public affairs and communications strategist Matt Curtis shares the question he now always asks in a job interview. He shares team sports experiences and how playing basketball taught him the importance of positivity and teamwork and why he carries those lessons closely in his professional life. Matt Curtis is the director of government relations at HomeAway Inc. Previously he was communications director for Austin mayors office.
Erik: What company qualities did you seek when looking for a new job? Matt: The biggest thing that I have found as I’ve gotten older, is the one question I never asked when I was younger. What’s the environment like? You know, what is the culture in the company like? Is it a fun culture? Do people work together as a team in a team environment? And that’s what I now ask for, and that’s very important to me. I realized as a younger man, I loved playing basketball, and it was 5 people on the court. And everybody was as important to everyone else. I didn’t have the same feeling with football, where my role was I seem to crouch in front of a guy and then when the ball is hiked, I would punch into the guy in front of me, and we’d shimmy around a little bit then fall down, I had a tough time kind of figuring out my role in football. Maybe other people can but I couldn’t. But in basketball, it didn’t matter who you were, everybody was very important on that court, and just as important as everybody else. And I realized the fluid motion of teamwork and the positivity on the court made such a huge difference in the outcome of the game. And that’s what I look for in an employer, teamwork, positivity, you know, a fun work environment where everybody gets along, and everybody is as important as everyone else. Erik: How did you uncover that going through your search? Matt: I ask about it. I ask—As I go through and I meet with people, I’ll ask them, hey, what’s the environment like here, is it a team environment? I’ll do my research, I’ll ask people who might have worked at the company before or maybe what people have heard from friends who work at a company. But there’s nothing like sitting there and looking at someone and saying, “Is there a good positive team aspect here? Is this a fluid work environment where everyone is as important as everyone else?” And seeing what their response is.