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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Sample Question Set for Executive Interviews

Culture Self-Assessment Practice

Sample Question Set for Executive Interviews

These are samples of questions to be used to interview company executives to finalize the question set to be used in employee focus groups. These are suggested questions that organizations can customize. Once the data from these questions is synthesized, a final question set should be developed and finalized for use with employees in the organization as outlined in the Culture Self-Assessment Practice Process Design.

These materials are made available under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) for noncommercial use with attribution and no derivatives. If your organization adds to or changes these materials in any way, please distinguish clearly between these materials and those developed internally.

Sample Question Set for Executive Interviews

View the Question Set as a PDF

Q1. What are the three words you would use to describe your company’s organizational culture (for example, if a friend or family member asked you, “What kind of a place is your company to work at?”)

Q2. To what extent are the firm’s key values re-enforced and put into practice?

Q3. What behaviors are most likely to harm an employee’s good standing at your company?

Q4. What happens when someone violates the norms of the culture (drifts from the values)?

Q5. In your opinion what are the two or three business activities where your company is most at risk in terms of potential ethical misbehavior? Why? (separate questions with reference to examples given)

Q6. To what extent is there pressure to “make one’s numbers”? And do managers generally feel that pressure is extreme, or realistic and manageable?

Q7. To what extent are there incentives to “cut corners” to make one’s numbers?

Q8. Are there ever value conflicts among management, for example what to put first: Profits? Technology? Customers? Other?

Q9. To what extent to employees/managers feel they have access to the board?

Q10. To what extent is the board perceived as being concerned with company’s ethics?

Q11. With regard to the following, to what extent do you think the ethical reputation (or “brand”) of your company may be at risk:

a. Purchasing
b. Supplier/contractor behavior
c. Sales
d. Treatment of employees
e. Customer relations
f. Environmental standards
g. Regulatory compliance
h. New acquisitions
i. Shareholder relations

Q12. Can you give us a couple of examples of where you are proud that your company “does the right thing?”

Q13. Where does your company clearly “draw the line” ethically—that is, what things won’t the company do (e.g., even if they are profitable)?

Q14. To what extent does company encourage such positive behaviors as fairness, candor and showing respect for people?


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