Agile Mentors Podcast

Agile Mentors Podcast

Practical advice for making agile work in the real world

The Agile Mentors podcast is for agilists of all levels. Whether you’re new to agile and Scrum or have years of experience, listen in to find answers to your questions and new ways to succeed with agile.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Overcast Listen on Pocket Casts Listen on Spotify Download RSS

#46: How to Assess Company Culture Before Accepting a Job Offer with Christina Ambers

May 03, 2023     35 minutes

Join Brian and guest Christina Ambers on this episode of the "Agile Mentors" podcast as they discuss the importance of asking the right questions during a job interview to determine if a company (and its culture) is a good fit for you.


In this episode of the Agile Mentors podcast, Brian sits down with Christina Ambers to discuss the most important questions to ask during a job interview for an Agile role and the yellow and red flags to look out for.

Listen in as Christina shares her insights on which questions to ask in order to probe deeper and better understand the company's values and culture to assess whether the role is a good fit for you as a candidate.

Whether you're a job seeker or a hiring manager, this episode offers valuable insights into ensuring a good match between the company and the candidate.

Listen Now to Discover:

[01:13] - Brian welcomes Christina Ambers to the Agile Mentors podcast. Christina is an Agile Enthusiast, Enterprise Coach, Speaker, and owner of SMART ACE Formula. She’s also an active member of the Agile Mentors Community. Today we're discussing the topic of interview questions and why it's essential to ask questions during an interview.
[02:31] - Christina explains how asking questions during an interview allows the candidate to interview the company to see if it's a good fit for you.
[02:48] - Brian shares that having questions prepared shows a level of preparedness and readiness for the interview to determine if the company is the right fit for you, especially in today's job market with increased layoffs.
[03:54] - How asking the right questions can save you from frustration and a dead-end career
[05:01] - Christina shares a good starting point for asking questions that will help you determine what it's like to work at a company and help you get a sense of their culture.
[05:35] - Brian shares a tip on weeding out vague answers about culture and offers a warning of what to look for as an indicator that the culture isn't great.
[07:04] - Christina adds that if the interviewer relates culture to food or other benefits, it’s another warning sign that culture might not be taken seriously in the organization.
[07:58] - Christina suggests that these red flags could also be opportunities to improve the company culture if it's an area you excel in, offering a chance to make a positive impact and provide you with some job security.
[8:37] - Brian suggests asking a question that puts the interviewer at ease and helps them focus on the company's culture and offers an example
[09:09] - Christina shares her favorite question to ask in an interview, sharing that this question helps her understand what the interviewer expects out of your role.
[09:44] - Christina shares that if an organization's culture isn't conducive to improvement, that could be a red flag.
[10:36] - More than just a warm body—why it's essential to clarify what is expected of your role BEFORE you take the job.
[11:09] - How to avoid being the “new Dave.”
[11:46] - Christina shares how asking questions about the outcomes and responsibilities of the role can help a candidate identify any hidden or unexpected aspects of the position that were not included in the job description.
[12:30] - Asking the right questions to avoid misunderstandings (and wasted time and effort)— Brian shares his experience of being misled during the interview process by a company that claimed to be interested in agile methodology.
[13:50] - How flipping the question can help clarify what outcomes they expect from the role, especially when talking to the team, to understand how to be successful in the position.
[14:28] - Christina talks about clarifying whether the role is a replacement or a new role and how the company values the role.
[15:04] - Christina shares her concern about the company's expectations being too high, especially for a new role. She suggests asking whether the company is ready for the change and how much they value the new position.
[15:41] - Brian adds that asking how the team's performance is measured is essential. He recommends understanding what the company is trying to accomplish with the team.
[16:49] - Christina shares some yellow flags that provide room to grow and an opportunity for coaching.
[18:08] - Brian recommends asking how the company invests in employee growth to determine how they value individuals versus teams.
[18:40] - Brian shares the sponsor for today’s episode, Mountain Goat Software's Certified Scrum Product Owner Training which teaches how to use the product backlog as a tool for project success.
[19:17] - Christina talks about inquiring about how the company connects developers to actual customers.
[20:36] - A passion for continuing education: Christina recommends asking about how the company values additional learning experiences and how they reward individuals versus teams for continuing education.
[23:56] - Avoiding potential red flags.
[24:46] - Christina suggests asking about the company's changes since COVID-19 to find out how they respond to significant disruption and delving into employee longevity.
[25:58] - Brian emphasizes the importance of asking questions during the interview process to determine how Agile a company is right now and how they actually care for their employees vs. just what they can deliver.
[27:44] - The value of talking to other employees in the company.
[28:32] - How to determine how a company views work/life balance (and their flexibility for work from home).
[29:35] - Probing a company's attitude towards offshore or outsourced employees in relation to their in-office employees before starting to work for them.
[30:18] - Success isn't measured by simply sitting at a desk and typing—watching out for red flags indicating the company hasn't figured out what success means to its customers.
[31:05] - Determining the Agile framework of your future team.
[32:15] - What does Scrum mean to you—there might be more than one answer—how to find out and what follow-up questions to ask.
[32:50] - Connect with Christina in the Agile Mentors Community or check out SMART ACE Formula.
[33:39] - Join the Agile Mentors Community community to continue the discussion. If you have topics for future episodes, email us by clicking here. And don’t forget to Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode.

References and resources mentioned in the show:

Mountain Good Software's Certified Product Owner course
Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule
Join the Agile Mentors Community
Scrum Alliance
Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Want to get involved?

This show is designed for you, and we’d love your input.

  • Enjoyed what you heard today? Please leave a rating and a review. It really helps, and we read every single one.
  • Got an Agile subject you’d like us to discuss or a question that needs an answer? Share your thoughts with us at

This episode’s presenters are:

Brian Milner is SVP of coaching and training at Mountain Goat Software. He's passionate about making a difference in people's day-to-day work, influenced by his own experience of transitioning to Scrum and seeing improvements in work/life balance, honesty, respect, and the quality of work.

Christina Ambers is a certified Scrum Master, Agile, and Kanban Coach with over 16 years of experience in software development and transformations. She is passionate about unlocking agile potential, inspiring teams to succeed, and applies agility and lean concepts in her everyday life. Christina is a founding member of the SMART ACE Formula and has worked with companies of all sizes and industries to help teams collaborate and work more effectively.