If you’ve ever interviewed for a job at Rho, you know that one part of our process is a little different from what many other companies do. Each prospective employee goes through a culture fit interview. So, what is a culture fit interview? (And equally important, what isn’t a culture fit interview?) Why do we think they are important?
What it is
The purpose of the culture fit interview is to make sure that each employee we bring on board shares and embodies the same values that we do. You can read more about our core values here. These interviews are conducted by a select set of senior leaders who have been with the company for quite a while. The interviews do not assess skills or technical qualifications, and, generally speaking, won’t be performed by someone who shares the same expertise as you do.
We use the same bank of questions for all culture fit interviews whether you are applying for an entry level position straight out of college or a senior leadership position. These questions ask for examples or stories from your past experience that assess qualities that we think are important—ability to work as part of a team, to think critically and creatively when solving problems, to communicate effectively, and to demonstrate integrity.
What it isn’t
We recognize that one of the dangers of this type of screening is that it provides an opportunity to weed out candidates that aren’t “just like us.” That is not what we are doing. We value diversity of all kinds—demographic diversity, diversity of experience, and diversity of perspective. We are not looking to create a homogeneous workplace where everyone thinks and acts the same.
We are, however, looking to select candidates that can succeed and thrive in our workplace. From experience, we’ve identified some of the attributes that can make otherwise similar candidates succeed or fail at Rho. There are people who are highly skilled and who can be highly successful in other corporate climates who won’t do well here. We owe it to them and the people who would work with them to try and identify them ahead of time.
In addition to the qualities listed above, there are aspects of our environment that can cause otherwise successful professionals struggle here at Rho. Rho has a very flat organization structure that relies heavily on project teams’ ability to execute in a fairly independent way. That allows a high degree of autonomy but also creates higher expectations for collaboration and communication.
Some people love this—they get a great deal of say in both what work they are doing and how they do it. They don’t feel micromanaged and they enjoy close collaboration with their teams. Some people don’t love it—some people prefer more firm direction and less fluid hierarchies. If you need a lot of structure and close oversight from a supervisor to be successful, this may not be the best environment for you. If you don’t like being part of a self-directing team and want a manager to negotiate your work priorities and interactions with other groups, this may not be the best environment for you. There’s nothing wrong with that! There are plenty of places that operate that way, but Rho is not one of them.
Why we do it
We believe our employees are our greatest asset. Attracting and retaining the most talented employees is critical to our success, so we put a huge emphasis on selecting the right people to join us and maintaining a culture where talented people want to stay long-term.
A number of years ago, we went through a period of accelerated growth where we hired a large number of people very quickly. Despite carefully vetting the technical capabilities of these individuals, a high percentage failed to succeed here. We began to experience a lot of turnover—a new and unpleasant problem. The culture and work environment began to drift from what had made us successful and what had made many of our long-term employees so excited about working here. It took a lot of effort to correct that drift and stop the turnover, but we did it—and we don’t want to have to repeat that effort.
We now view maintaining our culture as another key component to continued success. Culture fit interviews are one way we do this. It is a significant investment we are making—it takes a substantial amount of time to conduct these interviews and it means we sometimes can’t grow as quickly as we might otherwise. It is also a step in the selection process that we take very seriously. We never skip this step, and we don’t make an offer to a candidate unless the culture fit interviewer is satisfied.
How can you prepare?
Are you interested in working at Rho, but this part of the interview process makes you nervous? Here’s some advice to help you prepare. This isn’t supposed to be a “gotcha” process. It is supposed to help us—and you—evaluate whether this is a working environment where you can be successful.
Start by reviewing our core values. All of the questions we ask directly relate to these values. Think about examples and stories from your past experiences that demonstrate your strengths in relationship to each of these values. Think about some examples that show:
- Times when you’ve gone above and beyond to help your team or a coworker succeed
- Clever ways you’ve solved complicated problems
- Situations where your integrity has been tested
- Ways you’ve ensured the quality of your work
Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of work experience to draw from. We’ve had plenty of early career candidates who have answered our questions with examples from school projects, internships, volunteer experiences, and extracurricular activities.
Interested in learning more about working at Rho? Find out more about why Rho is a great place to work or meet some of the interesting people you could be working with.