What sort of culture do I prefer?

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In job interviews, you tend to get asked what you’re looking for in a company. What’s the best culture for you? How do you structure work? When are you the most motivated? Given I’ve been in the job market lately, I decided to write some of these answers down.

Rather than being fanatic about specific technologies and debating tabs-vs-spaces, I care about the people and the product. I’m looking for different characteristics, which I find all tie back to good culture and companies that treat their employees as grown-ups that want to play their parts.

These are:

  • A “trust but verify” attitude, which tends to show in flexible work arrangements, flexible work hours, option for some remote work, no micro-management.
  • A sustainable approach to growth, driven by the culture and employees agreeing that growth is necessary, instead of a “double employee count by end of year“ target as defined by top shareholders or VCs.
  • True collaboration, across departments and teams. No knowledge silos, and ideally no fights over who owns which part of the application/whose ticket is this.
  • Ability to wear multiple hats if wanted, helping drive strategy and culture, helping manage projects, or coordinating multi-department work.
  • Culture of quality work: accept that hacks and shortcuts are necessary for speed, but also make time to bring quality back up. Engineering culture should embrace heavy testing, mentoring, and typed languages.
  • Friendly people, with a “no ego” mentality, an humble acceptance that we’re all building the company together. This also tends to show by having no strict adherence to process, as if it was a religion. Respect the Agile Manifesto’s “people over processes”, and have an openness and willingness to change if people are unhappy.
  • Ideally the company runs infrastructure on clean power: GCP, Azure, or AWS renewable-power regions.
  • Finally, a diverse company, with good gender ratios at all levels, a sense of community fostered by internal growth and slow assimilation of new hires, rather than fast growth with outside hires and mandatory team spirit events.

This is what matters to me. Do you know what’s important for you in a working environment?

Filipe CatraiaWritten by