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专栏 - 向Anne提问

如何借面试看穿一家公司的文化

Anne Fisher 2014年08月13日

Anne Fisher为《财富》杂志《向Anne提问》的专栏作者,这个职场专栏始于1996年,帮助读者适应经济的兴衰起落、行业转换,以及工作中面临的各种困惑。
求职者请注意,与面试公司的文化是否合拍,是职场成功的关键所在。不论对方开出的条件多么诱人,如果他们对你最擅长的东西没有兴趣,那就说明你与这家公司的文化并不契合。

    亲爱的安妮:在面试的时候,有没有什么方法可以弄清楚,在一家公司工作到底是什么样子?我现在正在求职,我希望找到一家与我在文化上比较契合的公司,这对我很重要,因为我现在工作的公司都快把我逼疯了。

    几年前来这家公司求职时,当时公司的面试官告诉我,这家公司的文化是“鼓励创新”和“有创业精神”,但事实却截然相反——公司内官僚主义横行,新的想法被视为不信任他人,决策过程缓慢,每一件小事都要得到许多人的批准,但最后却没有人对事情负责。我的大多数同事看上去对这种现状都非常满意,但我恨不得马上从这里蒸发。这一次,我该如何确保找到真正“在文化上契合”的雇主?——格格不入的方木钉

    亲爱的方木钉:很好的问题,贾森•哈罗德花了很长时间来思考这个问题。作为著名猎头公司Hanold Associates的CEO,他曾为耐克(Nike)、eBay、亚马逊(Amazon)、麦肯锡(McKinsey)、施乐(Xerox)等公司招聘过高级人才。哈罗德认为,文化合拍是职场成功(更不用说幸福)的关键所在,因此“我们有时候会告诉别人:‘不,你不适合XYZ公司。’或者说相反的话。”不论对方开出的条件多么诱人,“如果他们对你最擅长的东西没有兴趣,那便是不合适的文化。”

    当然,问题在于公司文化非常复杂,包含了方方面面,比如从办公室装饰到着装规定,从历史到传统,以及各种不成文的规定(而且大多数是潜规则),员工的日常工作方式正是由所有这些因素合力促成的。

    此外就是雇主的品牌,即一家公司希望在潜在员工市场中展现的形象,哈罗德称其为“梦寐以求的”文化,也就是说公司希望拥有,或者正在为之努力的一种文化,但肯定不是公司现有的文化。哈罗德认为,对你进行面试的管理者可能并不是故意误导你,而“有创业精神”和“鼓励创新”等词汇,有时候意味着说这些话的人“将雇主品牌或梦寐以求的文化与真实情况混为一谈。”

    那么,如何保证自己不会犯同样的错误?经过多年研究,哈罗德总结出向客户公司提出的五个问题,以确保他为客户寻找的候选人不会与客户公司的文化格格不入。你也可以并且应该问一下这些问题。

    1. 你如何形容你们的组织文化?哈罗德说道:“你要注意他们回答问题的速度。他们在这个问题上是否有所犹豫?如果是,这可能意味着该公司没有深厚的文化,或者不同部门自行其是。”

    假如你得到的回答是“有创业精神”。要求对方举一两个例子。“如果这确实是公司的文化,面试官会立刻告诉你不同的人和团队在速度、灵活性和自主权等方面的趣闻轶事。”如果不是这样,那就足以说明许多问题了。

    Dear Annie:Is there any way to figure out, in a job interview, what a company is really like to work for? I’m job hunting right now, and it’s important to me to find a place where I’d be a good cultural fit, because where I work now is driving me crazy.

    When I came here a couple of years ago, interviewers told me the culture was “innovative” and “entrepreneurial,” but it’s really the opposite—a huge bureaucracy where new ideas are seen as suspect, decision-making is slow, and every little thing has to get approval from so many different people that no individual is ever responsible for anything. Most of my coworkers seem perfectly content, but I can’t wait to get out of here. How can I make sure I get the “fit” right this time? —Square Peg in a Round Hole

    Dear Square Peg:Great question, and one that Jason Hanold spends lots of time pondering. As CEO of boutique headhunters Hanold Associates, he has recruited top talent for Nike, eBay, Amazon, McKinsey, Xerox, and many others. Hanold regards the right fit as so essential to success (not to mention happiness) that “we do sometimes tell people, ‘No, you’re not right for XYZ Corp.’ or vice versa,” he says. No matter how lucrative the offer, “if there’s no appetite there for what you’re best at, it’s the wrong culture.”

    The trouble, of course, is that corporate culture is complicated, encompassing everything from office décor and dress code, to history and tradition, to a whole range of unwritten (and mostly unspoken) rules that add up to how work gets done day to day.

    Then there’s employer branding, which is the image a company hopes to project to the marketplace of potential employees, and what Hanold calls “aspirational” culture, which is the culture a company wishes it had or is striving toward, rather than the one it has. Those managers who interviewed you probably weren’t trying to mislead you, Hanold says, but buzzwords like “entrepreneurial” and “innovative” can sometimes mean that the person speaking “has got the employer brand, or the aspirational culture, confused with the real thing.”

    So how can you be sure you don’t make the same mistake? Over the years, Hanold has come up with a list of five questions he asks client companies to make sure the candidates he brings them aren’t cultural misfits. You can, and should, ask these questions too.

    1. How would you describe your organizational culture?“You want to see how quickly they respond. Do they struggle with the question?” says Hanold. “If so, that might mean the company doesn’t have a strong culture, or that different groups are running in different directions.”

    Let’s say the answer you get is “entrepreneurial.” Ask for an example or two. “If that’s really true, the interviewer should instantly be able to tell you, not just one, but many anecdotes about speed, flexibility, the autonomy of different individuals and teams, and so on.” If not, well, that says a lot.

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