Interviewing for Culture, What’s Rewarded

Another key piece of culture is understanding a candidate's background and preferences around rewards: what do you reward, how do you reward, and when. Let me be clear: I am not discussing what the organization should and should not reward here, although I have plenty of opinions. I am discussing how to detect what the candidate thinks should be rewarded and how.

For any candidate, manager or not, consider these questions:

  • “Tell me about a time you felt well rewarded for work.” Listen very carefully here. People may not discuss money at all.
  • “Tell me about a time you  thought you had done a great job, but no one recognized it.” Be careful about how you ask this question, because you don't want people to blame others, but you do want to know what they think was rewardable.
  • “Give me an example of a time you were rewarded for great work, and a time you were recognized for great work. What was the difference and what did it mean to you?” Feel free to separate these into multiple questions.

In addition, consider these questions for managers or leads:

  • “Give me an example of how you have rewarded people in the past that worked.” (Listen for the story, then ask this question if it's not part of the story.) “How do you know it worked?”
  • “Have you rewarded people in the past and you think it didn't work? What happened?”
  • “Have you ever been in a position to reward people differently for similar work? What happened?”

Read this post with the other two: Interviewing for Culture, How People Treat Each Other, and Interviewing for Culture, What's Discussable and What's Not, and you'll have a great basis for understanding someone's cultural preferences.

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