TAO Self-help

Title:Ask these six questions to find the workplace culture for you

Author:VA Careers

Date:January 2022

Source:VAntage Point Contributor © 2022, Reprinted with permission

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and a greater interest in pursuing a career that matters, the idea of finding a "culture fit" at work has never been more significant than it is today.

Finding a workplace that fits your values and work ethic can make a huge difference, not just for you but for the organization as a whole. The skills and experience you bring to the table can be best utilized if you feel like you belong.

Defining "culture fit"

There are many competing discussions about how to define "culture fit" and its impact on the workplace and hiring. But at its core, culture fit is the likelihood that you'll mesh with the core values of an organization.

At VA, we define our culture by an easy acronym, I CARE. Taken together, these words represent the five key values we find in our work: integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence. However, it's just as easy to look at it as a simple phrase, "I care," that begins any statement about our work.

  • I care about those who have served.
  • I care about my fellow VA employees.
  • I care about choosing "the harder right instead of the easier wrong."
  • I care about performing my duties to the best of my abilities.

So, how can you tell if a workplace is a good fit for your skills and abilities? Are there things you should be considering as you look for a new job? The following questions will help guide you to assess both yourself and VA.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. In what type of work environment are you most productive and happy?

    Assessing how you work is critical in knowing the type of employment you're looking for. If you want to be on your feet and moving around, an office job isn't for you. If you need a quiet space and time to focus, though, an office might be a good fit.

  2. What motivates you to do your best work?

    Whether it's a steady paycheck, the promise of a promotion, or a sense of gratitude from the people you work with, many factors can impact how well you do your job. Consider what really drives you and you can better assess if a workplace will give you what you need.

  3. How would past coworkers best describe your work style?

    Any good self-assessment includes looking at your performance from an outside perspective. Be honest with yourself and reflect on how you've interacted with others during your career. Recognizing how you work with others can help you assess the type of work culture you're best suited to.

There are many more possibilities to consider when assessing what you want from your new career, but the above questions should give you a good sense of where your interests lie.

Questions to ask at your VA interview

  1. What would I be doing on a typical day?

    A simple question, but an effective gauge of how your time will be spent while you're at work. This question can also help you judge whether or not your interviewer has a grasp of what the position entails, and what their response might indicate about the workplace culture.

  2. Why did my predecessor leave?

    If a vacancy has been created, it pays to know why. Perhaps the position is new, or perhaps the person before you moved on to bigger and better things, maybe even within VA itself. Getting an answer to this question can tell you a lot about the place where you'll be working.

  3. What is your favorite thing about working here?

    Give your interviewer a chance to sell you on VA even as you find out what motivates a potential coworker. With that information, you'll get a chance to take the pulse of VA and find out if it's a place you really want to work.

Again, there are many more questions you could ask of your interviewer, but these core inquiries will help you gain a better understanding of workplace expectations.

Work at VA

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