XPG Insights

Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

XPG Insights

Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

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Discovering Culture and Management Styles with Some Simple Questions

Employees often don’t succeed or fail at duties; they succeed or fail in the culture the company has created. But discovering that culture prior to accepting a job through a couple of interviews can be challenging.  Frequently, we hear about the questions that are asked of interviewees to uncover true personality traits. Less common are discussion of questions asked of companies beyond the basics revolving compensation, benefits and a statement about culture.

We try to find out more. Occasionally, that information is harder to gain. Here are some of the more probing questions we ask sometimes that tell the full story of what prospective employees want to know:

      • If your company’s culture was a person, describe that person.
        The description may be something vanilla like: “well organized and supportive, always there for you when you need them.”  Or it could be a little more telling such as: “that exciting friend that is innovative and pushes boundaries – the one who always gets me to do something I would not have done on my own, but am almost always glad I did afterwards!”  You can learn a lot about a company culture when it is personified.
      • Sum up management’s style in 3 words.
        We ask who the candidate will report to and what we should know about their management style. If we can get that summed up in three words, it is usually more telling than a long description because it forces a choice of the most relevant features of the manager.  This area often has the biggest impact in the ability to find the right fit.
      • Why is there an open role?
        We always want to know why the position exists. Is it because of growth, turnover, management change? If someone has left the role open, why did they leave? If the reason is an issue, has that issue been fixed? If the issue still exists, we need to figure out what type of person can succeed in that environment and be able to represent the situation properly to a new prospect.
      • What does success and failure look like on this team?
        This question centers around what metrics matter the most and what are the company’s recent past and foreseeable future plans. This helps match the abilities of the candidate to the job.


When we interview a candidate, we listen a lot. We take all of those details and focus on these key things:

      • 3 most important factors
        People will consider a new job for reasons that seem clear in the beginning, but it is easy to be pulled in different directions once an offer is received and to lose sight of the original goals. During our intake calls, we always get a list of the three most important factors in a new job. We write them down and review them so that we keep the focus on the most relevant issues. And we remind our candidates what their original goals were so that we stay intent on what is most important. This list becomes especially handy once we start comparing offers.
      • The good, the bad and the perfect
        We listen to what the candidates like about their current role or past positions – and what makes them crazy. We listen to hopes and dreams and pet peeves. We listen to what’s driving them to leave their company and what their dream job looks like.
      • Expectations
        General expectations are the standard parts of most interview calls. Things like structure, flexibility, compensation, management style, culture, etc. But we try to drill it down to specific details. The more we can understand how each area is defined, the better success we have.

We share the ins and outs of the open position candidly with our candidates. We explain what we know about the company culture, the workload, and the team openly and clearly before we send a candidate. We also share information with the company about the candidate’s gaps in skills or experience, along with their priorities for taking a new job. People are willing to put in effort to make things work if they know in advance what they’re getting. It’s being surprised by new information that makes them unhappy and unsure.

We see the results of good intakes. We recently received an email from the manager of a recruiting team where we’d just made a placement. “We are so pleased with our new hire – she’s been here just a few months and she’s already being recognized as a rising star. It usually takes up to a year to get to five successful placements, and she’s done it in just a couple of months!”


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