“Culture is huge and should be included, or at least mentioned, in the interview,” Katko says. Further, she recommends jobseekers arrive early and sit in a company’s lobby, observing the atmosphere and people. Is there laughter? Multiple conversations? Do people look nervous or happy?
Stornetta agrees, noting that company culture should be defined in the job description. If a company has a particular way of doing things or certain processes that it follows to the letter, this should be made clear in an interview.
“When moving up in an organization, soft skills are crucial,” he emphasizes. “Some companies thrive on a team-first, supportive environment; others encourage self-promotion at the expense of the team. Some are numbers first and work to achieve these numbers by any means necessary.”
Stornetta points to farming and agribusiness, which are different from other industries in that hard skills often trump soft ones. Many ag businesses are also family-owned. In this case, the family typically determines how things are done, how things work, and who advances or doesn’t—in effect, the company culture.
He also suggests hiring teams compare notes, comments, and ratings, in addition to individual feelings about and reactions to an interviewee. “Sometimes, a candidate may not be flashy or gregarious during an interview, but might be a great fit,” he says. “But he/she might also be overlooked due to a hiring authority’s view of how a person interviews versus how he/she will be a fit for the whole organization, the position’s needs, and potential position growth.”
Leading By Example
Ultimately, if a company expects a certain type of behavior and work ethic from its employees, management should model this behavior. It’s similar to parenting: children emulate their parents in language, attitude, and even posture.
When looking to build a team, observes Katko, workers must be able to work and learn together. And to those who may believe they already know everything about camaraderie and interpersonal skills, she advises, “You think you know it all? Guess what, you don’t—there’s always more to learn.”