Seven Great Interview Questions to Assess Cultural Fit

As most human resource managers know, culture is everything when hiring.  Even the most talented employees will fail to contribute if they are not a good cultural fit.

Unfortunately, culture is a hard thing to put a finger on.  Unlike other skills that can be measured in dollars, years, etc., culture is both easy to see, yet hard to explain and identify in a candidate.

Fortunately, these seven questions will help you to better understand if and why a candidate is a good cultural fit. 

Without further ado, here are seven questions you can use to focus your interview specifically on how a candidate would fit in your organization’s culture. 

Question #1: What type of environment do you thrive in?

Ensuring that a candidate thrives in the type of environment your company offers is huge.  If your culture is fast paced and competitive and the candidate says they enjoy a relaxed and quiet environment to thrive, you know they may not be a good fit.  

Question #2: If you were starting a company from scratch, what would you want the culture to look like?

This question is valuable because it will help you identify how much thought a candidate has put into the type of culture that suits them.  Furthermore, you can compare their ideal culture to your company’s culture to identify key similarities or differences.


Question #3: In your opinion, what is leadership?

A large part of culture is how work is organized and employees are led.  Identifying exactly how a candidate feels leadership should work can help you to better understand if they will fit in with the organization.  


Question #4: What kinds of activities do you do outside of work? 

Although having similar interests isn’t essential to an employee’s success, it often is a good predictor of cultural fit.  If your culture is athletic and outdoorsy, if a candidate says they like to watch TV on the weekends, it might be hard for them to relate to their co-workers and thus do an effective job.  Also, make sure to avoid these illegal interview questions when interviewing someone about their life outside of work.  


Question #5: What is your ideal workday?

Having a candidate walk through their ideal work day will give you a better understanding of how they work.  You can then compare their response to the culture to see if it matches up.  Do they enjoy working on one long task alone, with a group of team members on many small projects, etc.


Question #6: Why do you want this job?

The reason a candidate is applying for a job is critical to making a hire.  It can also be a great way to assess if a candidate is a good cultural fit.  Are they interested in the product and a specific market?  Is the reason they want the job and are motivated similar to other successful employees?  This line of questions will help you understand if the candidate wants the job because it is right for them or if they are taking it for another reason.  


Question #7: What is a company whose culture you admire and would want to be a part of (not the one you are applying to)?

This question will allow you to determine if an employee has done their homework and knows what kind of culture would suit them.  It is also relatively easy to determine how your culture is similar or different to the organization they picked.  

Finally, by listening to how the candidate explains their ideal culture, you can see what is important to them.  Did they mention strong teamwork, flexible hours or an office you where you can bring your dog?  This will give you an idea if your culture meets their key needs.  


Bonus Question #8: Overall Impression

When assessing a candidate for cultural fit, it is important to consider your overall opinion or “gut feeling” in addition to their responses to culture-specific questions.  The way a candidate responds to each question you ask will give you a subtle clue as to whether or not they are a good cultural fit and may be harder to fake than specific questions.  

If you ask these seven questions and are still not sure, here are a few more interview questions that will help you hone in specifically on a candidate’s ability to mesh with your company’s culture.  

Overall, these questions combined with your gut feeling should allow you to make a good hire.  And remember, when in doubt after asking these questions and considering your gut feeling, a candidate is probably not a good cultural fit.  Good luck hiring!


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