How to identify company culture via video call

With the FMCG recruitment market showing no signs of slowing, and most interviews having moved to virtual/video calls, the way candidates assess a new employer needs to evolve to keep up – it is likely you will be making a career choice without having met anyone in person or having been into the office.

Previously meeting the teams, seeing the working environment, getting a ‘feel’ for the culture was all done in person, but with the current climate and video calls dominating processes for the foreseeable:

How do you decide whether or not an employer is ‘right’ for you?

First off, one of the most obvious (but easy) mistakes to make is to directly ask “what is the culture like”. This will likely land you a standard answer about corporate values and EVP.

In-person, when you walk around an office, meet people and chat to employees it is easier for you to get a sense of atmosphere and culture to cut through the ‘company line’ – but how do you do that over video?

The most important thing to do is to ask evidence-based questions. Think about what it is you really want to know and ask a specific question around that topic.

E.g. “what examples can you give me of employees that have progressed through the business?”

This will give you real-life scenarios to help with your decision-making process and is far more useful than the company values being churned out to you as an answer.

1) Ask some ‘non-work’ (but appropriate) questions to gauge personality. We had a candidate recently ask the hiring manager who their dream dinner party guest would be and the answer sparked a really good conversation between both parties – both are keen to progress to the final round and it gave a good insight into how they would interact in the role.

2) Read the Glassdoor reviews (but take them with a pinch of salt!) and be prepared to talk through the feedback with the hiring manager/HR team. If there are negative reviews these don’t need to be a deal-breaker – but they are worth discussing/exploring with the business directly to find out why someone felt that way.

3) Ask for a peer to peer call with someone who works at the level you will be joining at. Understand their journey and, where possible, have an honesty chat. What’s the best thing about working there? What’s the worst thing about working there? What are their frustrations? What do they enjoy the most? There will be loads of insights they will be able to give you to help with your decision making process.

4) Ask your network – think about who you know that has worked there and do some digging – you still need to form your own opinion but it doesn’t hurt to have a few sources on the inside.

5) Ask your recruiter (or Vertical Advantage!). In most cases, we will have worked with clients for years and will know them well. We can give an honest insight into attrition, what their staff say and our experiences with them. There’s a lot of value we can add with this.

Although there is a lot of change in the market currently, there is still a real appetite from clients to hire. I’m incredibly proud of how quickly and calmly our industry has adapted to new technologies and ways of interviewing as it’s important to keep a steady flow of new talent coming.

Please do keep an eye out for our content every couple of days, next up is my colleague  Andy Davies who will be advising on how you can still hire talent and find good people whilst not using recruitment agencies (yes, you read that correctly!)

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If you think we can help advise you with your strategy or help you in finding talent during this time, please do reach out to me on or give me a call on 07985 541 882.