I bet you’ve seen teams like this: people are quiet, reserved and thoughtful. They discuss issues in moderated respectful tones and words. And, I bet you’ve seen teams whose favorite word is “brain-dead” when discussing ideas or people, who seem to need to have high volume discussions, and are loud. I bet you’ve seen teams between or outside those two possibilities, too 🙂 Each team is different, and when you hire for cultural issues, you need to address how people treat each other.
I like to ask questions such as, “Give me an example of a time people were in conflict. How did the conversation go?” or “Tell me about a time the team members were happy about something. What was it and how did they express their happiness?”
I also like to ask questions such as these: “How do you discuss options for the project (or testing or development or whatever)?” Discussing options, or not discussing them may reveal a lot about how people treat each other. Some teams have hierarchical discussions–they wait for the senior person to say something and then the rest of the team members can chime in. I see this a lot in senior management teams. Some teams disparage team members when they say something unexpected; some teams like the different point of view.
Considering how people treat each other is a piece of culture, and there are many ways for people to treat each other that work. What’s key is seeing how comfortable you are with how the team members treat each other.