The culture we work in has a major impact on our mental and emotional well-being as well as the level of enjoyment we experience professionally. As we come into a new workplace, how can we determine if the culture is toxic or healthy?
I recently read an article by Charlotte Colombo in which she identifies the one question candidates should ask during their job interview to avoid working in a toxic workplace:
“Tell me about the person on your team
that’s most different from you.”
We refer to this as the green fish question.
How an interviewer responds to the green fish question can present red flags about the organization’s workplace culture.
Implies a Healthy Culture Implies a Toxic Culture
Positive response Negative response
Praises their colleague Makes fun of colleague
Talks about complementary skills Complains about colleague
Shows self-awareness Implies everyone needs to be the same
It’s a good sign if the interviewer leans forward and shares excitement about how this other person is different. However, it’s a bad sign if they tell you that they just don’t understand the other person and think the person’s differences are a problem.
Other questions that reveal the health of a culture include:
- “Tell me what you have changed recently based on feedback from your team.”
- “What’s your favorite thing about working here, excluding pay and benefits?” It’s a positive sign if they speak about the company, the atmosphere, and their colleagues, but a concerning sign if they talk about the clients, pay, and benefits.
Regarding the culture you work in, how would you answer the green fish question?
From our green fish team…Willow, Kevin, and Tom.
Paul Bernabei, Director
Top 20 Training