Questions to assess culture (fit) in tech

Venkatesh-Prasad Ranganath
2 min readJun 6, 2024


Based on my observations of teams, I compiled the following non-exhaustive list of questions to learn about the culture of a work environment.

  1. Do teams have a list of well-defined values and behaviors that allow them to decide and execute mostly independently?
  2. How does the work/development environment support prototyping and experimentation?
  3. How long (or how much effort) does it take to go from idea to deploying a prototype or an alpha version to internal consumers, say, for continuous experimentation and development)?
  4. Do teams conduct retrospectives? If so, for what scenarios and what happens after retrospectives? If not, why not?
  5. How do teams ensure accountability for execution and outcomes? What about accountability for decisions? What about accountability for technical debt?
  6. Would you deem your culture a permission culture or a constraint culture?
  7. What is the basis of decisions in your teams, e.g., opinions, evidence, tenure of the executor, track record of the executor, or benefits from the effort?
  8. What is the decision-making credo in your teams, e.g., skin in the game, no one is hurt, put up or shut up, where the buck stops?
  9. What happens when team X needs feature Q in product P, which team Y owns but cannot build feature Q?
  10. What is the reward/recognition culture, e.g., promo for having a significant impact or promo for executing long-term projects?
  11. Were any projects shelved in the last 6–12months? Why were the projects shelved? Who initiated the shelving?
  12. Who identifies and initiates projects? What is the associated process?
  13. During work hours, how much time do developers spend learning new knowledge that may not be immediately relevant to their current work?

There are no generally right or wrong answers to (all of) these questions. There are different degrees of goodness-of-fit between the provided answers and the expected answers expected to these questions.

Answering these questions can help employers and prospective employees assess whether they are a good fit.

To use these questions, prospective employees should identify the answers to these questions that align with their expectations of a reasonable work environment. Then, they can seek answers to these questions in interviews (remember the “do you have any questions for us?” question :)) or when researching about employers.

Likewise, employers can adapt and adopt these questions in behavioral interviews to assess cultural fit. Before using them, employers should identify the answers that represent their work environment.

Teams and organizations can benefit from regularly revisiting such questions to assess the culture of their work environment.

Of course, the above questions will be useless without honest answers :)



Venkatesh-Prasad Ranganath

Engineer / Ex-Academic / Ex-Researcher who is curious about software and computing.