The #1 Question to Ask During a Job Interview

The #1 Question to Ask During a Job Interview
Natalie Kozma
October 30, 2014
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Let me start with a disclaimer. If your sole objective for finding a job is simply to make large chunks of change, you can stop reading. But if you want to actually like (and hopefully love) where you work, then there is one question you must ask during the interview: 

“What is the culture of the company?” 

I know, I know – you were hoping I would reveal a top-secret strategy for nailing job interviews that leaves the recruiter in shock and awe. My apologies, you’ve been duped. But hear me out, because this still matters. 

It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to work for a company that you know absolutely nothing about. A job is a job. Money is money. Right? Well, not exactly. 

I’m quite young by most people’s standards, and while I don’t have much work experience in the advertising industry, I have had my fair share of horrible bosses and annoying coworkers (let’s just say I won’t miss waitressing). When I was seeking an internship related to advertising and public relations this past summer, my objective was pretty simple: I just wanted a job. I felt as if I wasn’t in much of a position to be selective – if they wanted me, they would have me. But then something extraterrestrial happened … I was offered two internships. Chaos ensued. 

The Hard Decision 

I had a decision to make, and so as any distraught twenty-something would do, I called the parents for some advice. The first question they asked was, “What is the culture of the company like?” Light bulb. 

I reflected on my past years of working for a boss who didn’t acknowledge my work ethic, and coworkers who didn’t respect me, and then I had a terrible thought: What if I hate my new job? 

So I did my homework. And as it turns out, Güd Marketing is a pretty remarkable place to be, especially for a young woman. 

Why I Chose Güd Marketing

Founded in 1978, Güd Marketing is a women-owned small business with an emphasis on working with organizations that serve and support a greater good in their communities. When you’re a student studying advertising, oftentimes professors will discuss ethics, and usually they use this classic example: 

“If you were offered a six-figure salary to advertise for a cigarette company, would you take the job?” 

Whatever your answer may be, it forces you to look internally about what you care about in a company – which brings me back to my affinity for knowing the culture. 

In my case, it is important that I work for a company that promotes the general well-being of my local, regional and national communities. I want to contribute to something that is going to help the world, not hurt it. And that is what we do here at Güd. In a “Mad Men” work industry and a world where women still make about 77 cents of every dollar a man earns, I’m proud to be an asset of an agency that is fair and progressive. And when I say “asset,” I’m not embellishing my role as an intern. I might be the lowest on the totem pole, but I am never treated as if my ideas do not matter. Instead, I’m given opportunities to do real client work and feel like a true asset to a company. It’s a refreshing feeling that I don’t think enough interns can relate with.

So when the time comes for applying for internships and you’re sending out those cover letters, I urge you to do a little research. Find out if you are going to be a good fit. You might not always have the option between two different internships, but at least start the search process with a curiosity for more than just the hourly wage. Walk into the interview already having knowledge of what the company is like, and when it comes to the end and they ask “Do you have any questions for me?” remember this blog post.

Written by Natalie Kozma, an intern at Güd Marketing from May - December 2014.