How to Articulate Your Preferred Work Culture
By Jamy J. Sullivan, JD, Robert Half
I’m seeking a new legal position and have been reviewing common questions hiring managers ask in interviews. One of those questions is how I would describe my ideal work culture. Can you provide any tips for refining and articulating my preferred work culture?
It’s smart to focus on this critically important question. Hiring managers who ask it aren’t looking for fluffy, generic answers. They want to know the specific conditions that help make you productive, engaged and successful at work. Responses such as “I like working in happy offices” are red flags because they suggest you have only a superficial understanding of organizational culture.
To convey that you’ve thought deeply about work culture and why it matters, ask yourself the following three questions before the interview.
1. Is it important that the firm’s purpose and values match my own?
Are you passionate about the environment? Do you thrive doing pro bono work? If you want the firm’s environmental, social and governance policies to align with your personal values, it’s essential to communicate this and also to research prospective employers’ focus areas. Give concrete examples of how you as well as previous companies where you worked helped to make a difference.
2. What about the work environment and advancement opportunities?
Do you prefer to be left alone to do your work? Or are you energized by brainstorming and collaboration? Talk about when and how either approach typically suits you best, again citing examples in your previous positions.
And if you’re looking to grow your career at a new firm, mention your professional goals and training opportunities or mentoring arrangements that might be able to help you advance in the ranks.
3. How much flexibility do I need in this role?
Research for the Salary Guide From Robert Half found that 76% of legal hiring managers said offering remote work options has helped them hire strong candidates. So if remote options and a healthy work-life balance are important to you, don’t hesitate to bring this up during the interview. However, talk less about how flexibility helps you and emphasize how it helps the employer. Illustrate how you’re more productive when given autonomy over where and when you work and that you’ve mastered digital tools and discuss best practices that keep you connected with colleagues, your manager and others.
Understanding what makes you thrive at work helps make you a stronger candidate. The better you can articulate your ideal work culture, the easier it is for hiring managers to assess your suitability for the role.
Jamy J. Sullivan is executive director of the legal practice at Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm. Robert Half offers contract and permanent placement solutions, and is the parent company of Protiviti®, a global consulting firm. Visit RobertHalf.com.