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How to answer cultural fit interview questions

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources.

Do you hire employees based on your assessment of their answers to interview questions that seek to understand their cultural fit? If you don’t, you are missing a critical opportunity to determine whether the prospective employee will work successfully in your company.

Use these interview questions about cultural fit as a starting point to develop your own questions. The prospective employee's answers help you determine whether the candidate will work successfully in your organization. These are the types of responses that will indicate your candidate's fit with your organization.

Assess Cultural Fit

In interview question answers that assess cultural fit, you are seeking an employee who shares the values and principles that drive work and relationships in your organization. You are looking for an employee who will add value, not an employee who will take constant work and effort on your part to bring them into compliance with your workplace norms.

You want to hire an employee who shares a common understanding of how coworkers and customers are valued in your organization. You don't want to bring an aggressive, out-for-himself person into an organization that values collaboration, shared goals, mutual respect, and shared rewards, for example. You do not want to hire a nitpicking micro-manager into a company that stresses employee empowerment and reasonable risk-taking.

In conducting interviews with prospective employees, the cultural fit assessment is critical. It is so important that some companies schedule a cultural fit interview in addition to, and often before, the more traditional interviews to assess skills, experience, and potential contribution. Zappos is an example of a company that does a cultural assessment phone interview before scheduling regular onsite interviews. These examples illustrate the assessment of answers to cultural fit interview questions.

Interview Question Answers About the Core Value of Teamwork

Your company has determined that teamwork is a core value. These are the types of answers that will help you assess cultural fit. The candidate:

  • Expresses comfort, and even a preference, for working with and on teams.
  • Articulates their strengths in a team environment or working on a team.
  • Is able to discuss the role that they typically play on a work team.
  • Describes a level of comfort how co-workers or bosses view their contribution in a teamwork environment.
  • Says we when describing accomplishments.
  • Attributes the success of endeavors to the group.
  • Does not say I and me in response to many questions.
  • When describing past approaches, problem-solving, achievements, endeavors, and projects, in response to other interview questions, includes forming a team or teamwork solutions as viable options.

Interview Question Answers About the Core Value of Delighting Customers

This is a second example that illustrates how to assess answers to cultural fit interview questions.

Your company has determined that delighting customers is a core value. These are the types of answers that will help you assess cultural fit. The candidate:

  • Uses examples in their answers to interview questions that demonstrate a commitment to serving customers and meeting or exceeding customer needs.
  • Speaks of coworkers and other internal customers as if they are valued and worthy of service.
  • When asked about values, the purpose of the business, goals, and other related concepts lists the customer as the key reason for existing.
  • Has stories to tell during the interviews that illustrate serving customers.

You will never find the perfect employee, the perfect manager, or the perfect boss, but you can find an employee who will contribute to, not tear apart, the work environment that you provide for employees. Carefully assessing your candidate’s responses to cultural fit interview questions, as suggested in the above examples, will help you select an employee who will fit well into your workplace culture.

Use these sample cultural fit interview questions to identify candidates who share your company values and are more likely to thrive in your work environment.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

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How to answer cultural fit interview questions

Why ask candidates cultural fit interview questions

Your culture is a reflection of your company’s values and mission. It shapes your employees’ way of working. There’s no right or wrong company culture. But hiring employees who fit well with yours increases your chances of achieving business goals and helps you foster an engaging work environment. It will also improve your retention rates.

There’s a catch, though. Cultural fit doesn’t mean hiring people you like or being discriminatory. Hiring for culture fit means recruiting people who will thrive in your environment.

Before you start interviewing candidates, define your company’s values and long-term objectives. Then evaluate whether candidates share the same values as you. Use your questions to identify toxic behaviors in potential hires before you make a hiring decision.

Here are some sample cultural fit interview questions you can ask candidates during your hiring process:

50% of your final interview score, why is it an oft-neglected piece of the management consulting interview prep process?

For one, case interviews are more difficult, requiring more preparation. Candidates know that the case will make or break them. And sure, if you absolutely nail the case interview and do “OK” on the fit interview, you might still get an offer. But the thing is, few people do that well in their case interviews. This means that an underwhelming performance during your fit interview will break you. In short, we recommend spending at minimum 2 hours in preparation for the fit portion of your interviews (in reality, most candidates will need 3-5 hours). If you don’t know where to begin, work with our expert team of interview coaches to build an interview prep plan.

In this ultimate guide to the cultural fit interview, you’ll get our tips and best practices for crushing culture fit interview questions and getting one step closer to a job offer!

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

Table of Contents:

What Is A Cultural Fit Interview?

First, let’s define a few terms. Culture fit interviews are also known as behavioral interviews. What is a behavioral interview? Management consulting firms, such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain, have developed their own flavor of behavioral interviews – the consulting industry refers to these as the fit interview. The purpose of culture fit interview questions is to test if you are a good fit for the firm. Do you have the personality, style, motivation, and temperament to deliver good work on challenging projects in difficult environments, keeping with the firm’s culture? Because consulting case interviews are intended to measure key “hard” consulting skills (ex: analytical capabilities, problem solving skills), the fit interview tends to be more focused on soft skills (ex: leadership and communication skills).

To best answer behavioral interview questions, use specific examples or stories to demonstrate the skills the company is seeking.

If you want to understand how to prepare for a culture fit interview, you’ll want to make sure to answer the question, “what does a business consultant do?” It is important to understand what the day-to-day of a consultant looks like when you are preparing for fit interviews.

Business consultants work in small teams, for long hours, while traveling extensively. They conduct extensive research and analysis to develop recommendations for clients.

Being able to use data to support a point, think quickly on your feet, and communicate with confidence are all important parts of the job. Analysts and more junior consultants spend a lot of time researching, gathering data, and doing complicated data analysis with spreadsheets and other database tools. More senior consultants, managers, and Partners spend a lot of time building PowerPoint presentations and conducting meetings to vet ideas and present insights to clients. It’s important to be able to get along with your teammates, understand your role, and be someone who supports your team members.

Culture fit interview questions try to tease out your ability to do all of these things.

As a hiring manager, boss, or CEO, it’s your responsibility to assess what qualifies as a good cultural fit for your organization. Ideally you will find candidates whose values, behaviours, qualifications, and ethics align with the organization’s priorities. The most successful hires will fit both the job and the workplace culture.

First, what are some examples of cultural fit in the workplace?

  • An employee who prefers to work alone on projects won’t be able to excel in a workplace that values collaboration.
  • A candidate that requires direction and guidance may not suit a fast paced startup where employees are expected to take more initiative.
  • A leader who emphasizes command and control over decision-making might have issues in a holacratic management environment where all employees get a say.

Luckily one can find a wealth of advice online about culture fit assessment. Let’s get down to the interview questions to assess culture fit.

Here are 50 of the best interview questions to assess culture fit:

  1. What gets you excited about coming to work?
  2. What was the last really great book you read?
  3. What surprises people about you?
  4. If you were going to start your own business, what would it be?
  5. What’s the biggest problem in most offices today?
  6. What did you like most/least about your last company?
  7. Where/when/how do you do your best work?
  8. When was the last time you made a big mistake at work?
  9. How could a manager best support you?
  10. Describe the best/worst team-building exercise you have ever participated in.
  11. How do you handle stress or tight deadlines?
  12. What are your plans for the next five years?
  13. What three things do you need to succeed in this position?
  14. What kind of events do you attend outside of work hours?
  15. What blogs or websites do you visit regularly?
  16. How would you describe your group of friends?
  17. What do you do for fun?
  18. Are you still friends with any previous colleagues?
  19. How have you changed over the last five years?
  20. What motivates you to do your best work?
  21. How do you prefer to communicate with coworkers?
  22. What has been the most valuable lesson of your professional career?
  23. Describe your dream job.
  24. What does a successful company culture look like to you?
  25. What most appeals to you about this role?
  26. How will this role challenge you?
  27. Who inspires you and why?
  28. How would you describe our company culture?
  29. What superpower will you bring to our company?
  30. How do you give/respond to critique?
  31. What three words would a current manager/colleague/direct report use to describe you?
  32. What has been the greatest disappointment of your life to date?
  33. How do you handle disappointments?
  34. If you do not get this position, what will be your next career move?
  35. What tools or apps allow you to work more efficiently?
  36. Which of our company’s core values do you most/least identify with?
  37. What does work-life balance mean to you?
  38. What charities are you passionate about?
  39. How do you manage conflict with coworkers?
  40. Describe a time when you exceeded people’s expectations.
  41. What role does kindness/empathy/humour play at work?
  42. What does your decision-making process look like?
  43. If you were to interview for another position at this company, what would it be?
  44. When is the last time you took a risk professionally?
  45. Would you rather work alone or with a team?
  46. How would you describe your leadership style?
  47. What would be your ideal work schedule?
  48. How do you stay organised?
  49. What would you change about our office/website/hiring process/business model?
  50. Why did you choose to apply here?

There you have it, 50 of the best interview questions to assess culture fit for your new candidates. Use these questions to drill down into the way a candidate works. The perfect candidate will not only fulfill the job qualifications but will meld with the rest of the team as well.

If you’re growing your team and want to manage your talent more effectively, Rise can help. Request a demo to see the platform for yourself and learn how Rise can help you grow your business.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

You want top talent to join your business. To achieve your goal, you must identify job candidates who represent a great cultural fit. This ensures you can hire candidates who can mesh with their peers. Plus, these candidates can become key contributors to your company’s success.

You can do many things to assess a candidate’s cultural fit during a job interview. These include:

1. Learn About the Candidate’s Preferred Work Style

The best employees are capable of completing tasks independently and as part of a team. As such, you should find out how a candidate approaches work. This gives you insights into whether a candidate prefers working independently or with teammates. From here, you can see if a candidate can thrive within your business environment.

2. Ask a Candidate What Motivates Them

Discover what drives a candidate to give their all. For instance, some candidates may enjoy working with managers who motivate them to perform at peak levels. Meanwhile, other candidates may be motivated by incentives and benefits. Once you ask a candidate what motivates him or her, you can get a good idea about how driven this individual will be in a role with your business. Next, you can determine if you have what it takes to motivate this candidate to deliver outstanding results.

3. See What a Candidate Has Liked and Disliked About Past Jobs

Get information about a candidate’s prior work experience. If a candidate has a history of spending only a few months at a business, it may be a sign that this individual is frequently on the lookout for their next career opportunity. Comparatively, if a candidate has remained committed to past employers for long periods of time, he or she may be willing to stay with your business long into the future. In this case, the candidate can become a fixture on your team. And the candidate can help your company accomplish its long-term aspirations.

4. Let a Candidate Meet with Multiple Members of Your Team

Give a candidate opportunities to speak with several team members. The candidate can engage with your team and see what it offers. At the same time, your team can provide insights into whether the candidate may be a viable cultural fit. If so, you can move forward with adding the candidate to your team.

Prioritize Cultural Fit During Job Interviews

It is beneficial to both you and a job candidate to ask questions regarding cultural fit during an interview. These questions can help you determine if a candidate is the right choice for your business. Moreover, they can help a candidate decide if he or she wants to continue to pursue a role at your company.

If you need help finding job candidates who complement your business’ culture, Arrow Staffing can help. We are a top-notch industrial staffing firm that can help you attract top talent at any time. To find out more about our staffing services, please contact us today.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

When hiring, you must determine whether candidates will thrive in the role, on the team, and within the company culture. Asking the right culture fit interview questions allows you to determine candidate culture fit.

High-performing companies look beyond the briefcase. After all, a pedigreed resume reveals nothing about a person’s values, passions, interests, and beliefs. It gives zero insight into the candidate’s preferred work environment. Put simply, companies that interview the whole person make better hiring decisions.

What are culture fit interview questions?

Hiring managers ask culture fit interview questions as part of the hiring process to determine alignment between candidates and company culture. Interviewing for culture fit is an objective way to measure if someone is a good match for your organization.

The way a candidate answers culture fit interview questions reveals a lot about their preferred work style, their preferred type of work environment, and their personal beliefs and values.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

Culture fit interview questions should be based on culture type.

Organizational cultures can be grouped into four main categories:

  • Exploring (focused on innovation and agility)
  • Stabilizing (focused on process and precision)
  • Cultivating (focused on teamwork and relationships)
  • Producing (focused on results and discipline)

For example, if your company seeks to bring new products to market quickly, you likely have an “exploring” culture. To hire good culture fits, screen for related behaviors (non-conforming, venturesome, flexible) and values (originality, exploration, adaptability).

Some companies fall squarely into two categories. If that’s you, ask questions that pertain to both culture types.

Not sure what quadrant your company falls into? Take this short quiz .

Hiring for culture add vs. hiring for culture fit

It’s worth noting that you might need to screen for culture add rather than culture fit as your company changes over time.

For example, if your company falls into the “exploring” category, you may need to hire more stabilizing people to develop processes that will ensure quality and enable you to grow even faster.

So, determining candidate culture fit can mean two things:

  • Determining if a candidate fits your current culture
  • Determining if a candidate enhances the culture you’re developing

20 culture fit interview questions to ask candidates

Here are 20 interview questions you can ask to gauge candidate fit, based on the culture you have:

Cultivating:

Tell me about a time you had to go outside of your role to help another team member.

What was the best team-building exercise you ever completed?

What was the worst team-building exercise you ever completed?

How do you like to interact with your co-workers?

Tell me about a time you and a co-worker disagreed on a decision. How did you resolve the issue?

Stabilizing:

What does high performance look like to you?

What’s your process for decision making?

How do you prefer to learn a new skill?

How do you ensure the quality of your work?

Tell me about a time a process didn’t exist and you had to implement one. How did you go about it? What was the outcome?

Exploring:

Tell me about a time you had to change directions quickly. What was the outcome?

How did you earn your first dollar?

If you were going to start a business, what would it be?

Tell me about a time you took a calculated risk. What was the situation? What was the outcome?

How do you balance the need to get things done against finding better ways to do them?

Producing:

How do you go about planning your work?

How do you prioritize?

Tell me about a time you failed at something but then went on to succeed at it.

What motivates you to do your best?

Tell me about a time you did not meet expectations. What was the situation? How did you navigate it?

Avoid turnover by hiring the right fit for your company culture.

Download this guide on interviewing for culture fit, including 16 questions and scoring rubric.

To determine additional culture fit interview questions to ask, identify the behaviors and values that map to your culture type—then screen for those.

How to assemble a team of culture fit interviewers

Here at The Predictive Index ® , we have a team of employees who are specially trained to interview candidates to determine culture fit. They ask a set of questions that map to our core values .

If the interviewers uncover red flags (i.e., the person has a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset), it’s clear they’re not a good match—regardless of any top-notch academic or professional credentials.

Why you should ask interview questions to assess culture fit

If an employee’s values don’t align with their company’s values, they’ll lack a sense of belonging. This misalignment between the employee and the company culture causes disengagement and poor performance.

The 2019 Employee Engagement Report found that company culture is a top driver of both engagement and turnover intent. In other words, when employees feel connected to your company culture, they’re more engaged and less likely to quit. When they don’t feel connected to your company culture, they’re less engaged and more likely to quit.

Adding this layer to your talent acquisition process increases your chances of hiring well. When you hire people that mesh well with—or add to—your workplace culture, they’re more likely to stick around long term and deliver the results you want.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

Cultural fit questions are designed to see if candidates match your company’s culture and values beyond their corporate experience. Interacting with coworkers and supervisors forms a large part of most roles, and it is essential to find employees that will thrive in the environment you have created.

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Some companies have a flat power structure where all employees are seen as equals. While roles dictate their level of responsibility, the work environment allows any staff member to speak up and volunteer their ideas or skills. If a candidate works better in a more hierarchal workplace, then they would not be a good cultural fit.

Common Cultural Fit Interview Questions:

  1. Do you prefer working in a team or alone? Why?
  2. What are your feelings towards taking work home with you?
  3. How do you respond to negative criticism from a supervisor or coworker?
  4. What do you identify as the biggest causes of stress in your current work environment?
  5. What about our company’s culture appeals to you most?
  6. How would you respond to a coworker in a less senior position providing you with criticism?
  7. Do you feel comfortable with becoming friends with coworkers? How has this affected your professional relationships?
  8. Have you experienced conflict with a coworker in the past? How did you deal with it?
  9. How comfortable are you with giving a more senior coworker constructive criticism?
  10. How do you maintain a good professional relationship with a coworker when you have opposing values or beliefs?

Next Steps:

Looking for additional questions? We have listed common interview questions and we also have questions specific to dozens of common jobs.

What is a cultural fit interview question?

A cultural fit interview question is designed to see if a candidate fits the social work environment and if they can thrive within your organization’s structure.

How do you prepare for a cultural fit interview?

Candidates can prepare for cultural fit interview by researching the company and reading about its goals, outreach programs, and approach to hierarchy. From this, a candidate can find links to their own values and work preferences.

What is a cultural fit?

A cultural fit is when an employee thrives in their work environment because they share the same goals and values as the company. Cultural fit also refers to how well a candidate works in an environment with certain power structures, such as linear power structures, a hierarchal power structure, or a middle ground between the two.

How do you evaluate cultural fit?

You can evaluate cultural fit by asking a candidate about their response to conflict situations, what their preferences for teamwork or individual work are, and what their boundaries are in the workplace.

How important is cultural fit?

Cultural fit is incredibly important because if a candidate does not share your company’s values or goals, they will not be able to contribute passionately. If a candidate struggles to work with a strict power structure, then they will not feel comfortable and will not perform to their full potential.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

Articles about job interview questions abound; search “job interview questions” and Google lists 3.7 million results. (Second on the list is an article I wrote on the most common job interview questions and answers that has been read by more 8 million people.)

All of which is great for job candidates: The better their interview prep — the better they can answer the interviewer’s questions — the more likely they are to get the job.

But there’s a flip side to the process. With the Great Resignation in full swing, great candidates are more able than ever to select the job — and the company — they want to work for.

Which means you, the interviewer, need to be just as prepared to answer the candidate’s questions — especially the candidates you really want to hire — as they are to answer yours.

Here are questions great job candidates ask you must be prepared to answer.

1. “What skills and qualities do your top performers possess?”

Great people want to be great employees, and they know every organization is different — and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations.

What makes your top performers stand out? Maybe creativity trumps methodology. Maybe landing new customers drives greater value than building long-term relationships. Maybe your best leaders — especially if your workplace is largely virtual — are more practical than charismatic.

Also keep in mind that what you value helps define your culture. Culture isn’t what you say; culture is what you do.

Smart people — smart job candidates — know that.

2 “What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 days?”

Face it — being the new hire kinda sucks.

The best candidates seek to overcome “newbie syndrome” by hitting the ground running. By achieving results. By accomplishing things. By proving they belong through their actions, not their credentials or experience.

They’ll really want to know your expectations so they can start making a difference immediately — and join the ranks of your top performers as soon as possible. Be prepared to explain, in detail, what you want them to accomplish. Goals. Milestones. Timelines.

Sure, mediocre candidates might be scared off.

But great candidates will be excited by the challenge.

3. “Can you tell me about something that happened at your organization that wouldn’t happen elsewhere?

As Adam Grant writes, research shows most companies fall prey to “organizational uniqueness bias,” assuming that their company’s culture is more distinctive than it really is.

Pretend I just asked that question. What would you say? Given no time to prepare, you’ll probably talk about the time an employee went the extra mile to solve a customer’s problem. Or the time employees took on extra duties to give a colleague time to deal with a family emergency. Or the time you gave a long-term customer a break on payment terms “because business is business, but business is really about people.”

Great — but just about every interviewer can tell those stories. Take the time to consider what really makes your culture different. What you or your employees do that few others do.

What sets you apart, and makes you the employer of choice for people with the same values and perspectives and goals.

4. “Why is this job open?”

Answering is easy. Either the previous person quit, got promoted or moved laterally, or it’s a new position.

But don’t stop there. If the previous person quit, explain why. Maybe the job provided experience that allowed them to land a higher-level job elsewhere. Or they weren’t a good fit, which gives you the opportunity to describe why the candidate is a good fit.

If the previous person got promoted, use that to talk about opportunities for growth.

And if it’s a new position, definitely provide context. Why the job was created. What the goals are. How the job will create value. How you hope the person hired will shape the job and its duties.

If you’re unprepared, the “Why is this job open?” question could make you feel defensive.

If you’re prepared, it’s an opportunity.

5. “How often will I receive formal and informal feedback?”

Keep in mind that some people love feedback — especially positive feedback — while others only want to learn about what they could do better. (Like me.)

So first explain your typical process. Frequency of formal performance appraisals. Feedback timelines for new hires. Basic stuff.

Then go further. Since great leaders adapt to the needs of their employees, ask how the candidate prefers for feedback to be handled. Maybe you’ll agree — if the candidate is hired — to do weekly check-ins for the first 60 days. Maybe you’ll agree to a formal review after 30 days. Maybe you’ll agree to a daily 10-minute Zoom call for a remote employee to answer questions, clear roadblocks, and clarify tasks.

Because how you prefer to provide feedback doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the way you deliver feedback helps your employees perform at their best.

6. “What are your expectations regarding off-hours communication?”

To make things worse, a study published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes shows that co-workers significantly overestimate how quickly senders expect replies to non-urgent emails — especially those sent outside “normative” hours like nights or weekends.

But then there’s this: Setting expectations up front does tend to reduce the negative impact of off-hours communication.

So if you expect employees to be available outside of work hours, say so. Explain why, how, and under what conditions. And don’t be tempted to soft-sell the frequency.

Because then you’re likely to lose a great employee once he or she figures out what you really expect.

7. “What is something I don’t want to know about this job?”

No job is perfect. (Otherwise it wouldn’t be a job.)

Maybe priorities regularly shift. (If you run a startup, priorities seem to shift from hour to hour.) Maybe job descriptions are more suggestive than absolute and employees regularly wear different hats. Maybe you know exactly what you want the employee you hire to accomplish, but not how.

Whatever it is, be honest. Not only is being candid the right thing to do, but oddly enough it also might make the person you hire more likely to succeed. Research shows that telling someone that something will be hard — telling them they are likely to face roadblocks and resistance — helps them cope with the mental challenges that naturally occur.

So don’t sugarcoat the effort involved. Great candidates will love the challenge. They’ll embrace the opportunity to show that whatever they need to accomplish won’t be that hard.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

I had an HR consultant reach out to me and ask how we prepare candidates for culture fit interview questions.

Essentially, she wanted to know about the list of questions we use to prepare our clients for when companies want to determine if someone is a good culture fit for their organization.

This is the part of the interview process when the company has already determined that your qualifications are suitable. Now the hiring managers want to see if you are a fit with the culture of the firm.

We have a list of about a dozen questions we address with clients, but this is my personal favorite to ask.

What would your answer be?

“Let’s be blunt. We all have a down side, a weakness, a quirk, or whatever you want to call it, that we will eventually find out about each other. If you start working here, what is the one thing I’ll learn about you in due time? Can you give me a heads up about it?”

(When they answer, I’d tell them about my downside/quirk/weakness, so no one feels vulnerable.)

If you were asked this question, how would you answer?

People who can answer this question (and the rest of the cultural fit questions) will reinforce to the prospective hiring manager that they will be a good fit.

You can go on a ton of interviews, demonstrate that you have the right qualifications, and if you are still not landing the offer, then you are probably struggling with the cultural fit interview questions.

Lauren was struggling with getting the offer on the multitude of interviews she was attending. She was frustrated. She has an amazing background (full of wins), and was advancing through the interview process, but not getting the offer.

Lauren hired us for our Interview Mastery System.

And we addressed what she was struggling with. She sent this email 11 days after hiring us:

“Hi Lisa: I listened to everything your company told me and I got the job offer. Your company and services rock and truly are effective. I already recommended a friend, who’s having a similar issue, to contact your company for coaching. Thank you a million times. There are no words to thank you for having your company exist!!

Sometimes you just need an outside perspective to tell you how to answer these cultural fit questions better.

Dive into our conversation with Fabian, co-founder at Sharpist.org and previously partner mgmt. & operations at GetYourGuide.
Hosted by Imagine Foundation (apply: joinimagine.com)

Johann (CEO & Founder, Imagine): Hi Fabi! My understanding is that you are the ‘master’ of cultural fit interviews. In your role, you’ve been leading many of them. How many did you do in your life so far?

Fabian: That’s a good question! I’d say more than 100 cultural fit interviews!

Johann: Wow! That’s why we’re talking to you today. Many people we work with have this one question: “what’s this ominous culture fit interview? what is it like and what do I have to do to survive it?” So shall we start with a very brief overview of the interview process and where does the cultural fit interview come in?

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

Fabian: Yeah, regarding the overall process: What we did at GetYourGuide, and now at Sharpist, is to start with a few very low barrier types of interview phone screens to see if we and the candidate have the same basic understanding of the role. Once this is checked, then you want to test people’s technical skills in several interviews. These interviews are also an opportunity to get to know the different team members and the process in which the team works.

The cultural fit interview comes in the very end. Here the team will ask “do I really believe that this person will add value to our team and do we feel like we want to work with this person day in, day out?”

Johann: Awesome, let’s dive into the cultural fit interview. What do you know about the candidates when they arrive “at your doorstep” for the cultural fit interview?

Ok, all the top companies use different tools to share information about the applicant throughout the process. At the start, I would typically know the types of questions that have been asked before, the candidate’s answers and his/her strengths and weaknesses as they are assessed by the other interviewers. In addition, I would obviously look at the CV of the person and write down a few questions that I found find noteworthy. I do not necessarily look for suspicious or bad things, just for things, you know, where there’s an unexplained gap in the CV. Not necessarily even problems, just things that are not standard. I would make a mark and just follow up to understand what happened. I am looking for some basic clear reasoning from the candidate. Not more, not less.

Johann: Thanks. Next, can you paint us a picture of a successful candidate? Like: how do people behave like who make it successfully through the culture fit interview with you?

Fabian: In a nutshell, good candidates help me develop a good understanding of the person’s motivation. That’s always very helpful. Example: When someone’s able to very clearly tell me “why I should we hire you” and the “why you are the right one for this job?”.

Tip: You come across with a clear, concise answer, and ideally even in a fun, relatable way, yeah that’s a good sign.

To achieve that I always try to put the applicant into a position where there is some degree of comfort. The spirit is one of a normal conversation rather than a formal interview. For candidates, this means:

this is not just a one-way conversation but also an opportunity to ask questions and get a feeling for me as a person and the company I represent. So: just relax (if you can, haha) and enjoy the ride.

Johann: Thank you! Can you tell us a secret and give us a typical question that you are typically asking?

Fabian: Sure. To start off, I would always ask “Can you give me a brief summary of what you’ve done before?” Here I am not looking for the summary of the bullets in the CV but rather for a coherent story as to why people moved between positions. There’s no right or wrong answer, it comes down to credibly explaining your journey.

Really good candidates show an ability to self-reflect.

Johann: Interesting, so when I hear this right: Important are self-reflection, communication clarity, establishing a good relationship, opening up and allowing you to get a feeling for the person behind the CV. What about tech? Do you talk about technical engineering details at all?

Fabian: I will never ask in depth (I am also not an engineer). But I sometimes ask for things that are a) related to the area of expertise of the applicant and b) where I don’t necessarily have a perfect technical understanding.

I want to know: “is this person able to communicate technical details to a broader audience?”

For example, I would ask a backend engineer “can you explain to an elderly person on the street ‘what is object-oriented programming?’” Explaining stuff to a technical peer is one thing but then explaining it to a random person in the street is another thing.

Johann: great! As a final question, some parting advice. Can you give us one do and one don’t? Something not to do and something absolutely to do in the cultural fit interview?

Fabian: First, the screw up: Don’t try to invent things that you haven’t done. There’s a good reason why you are invited to this interview. At this stage, companies believe in you. There’s no reason why you should invent anything that’s you have not done.

Don’t invent any stories. It always comes out. You always act somehow weird if things are not exactly like you have experienced them. Don’t do it.

Second, the positives: Be confident about the things you’ve done. Everybody has lived a very unique life. Companies appreciate that.

Always ask questions. Not just for the sake of doing so, but once you have done your homework, try to ask questions that really help you assess whether this is a firm you want to work for.

It’s a unique opportunity you have. Take advantage of it.

Johann: Thank you all for your time and detailed advice, Fabian. All the best.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

You’ve submitted your thesis, finished your exams and have now had some time to process your results. All that college work you were worried about this time last year is finally finished and you’re thinking great — what now?

First of all, you might be happy to hear that while your final college grade can be a decent indicator for future performance, it’s not the be all and end all for employers in the same way it used to be.

While there are certain companies who do still require a minimum grade to get into their graduate programmes, most modern tech companies look at a multitude of other factors when evaluating someone’s potential to be successful in a role.

Your personality is one such factor. In fact, in a survey of 2000 bosses, 33% claimed that they know within the first 30 seconds whether or not they are likely to hire someone.

A consequence of this trend means that it has become increasingly commonplace for companies to have “culture fit” interview questions that evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, interests and values.

These questions often require a certain amount of inflection and critical analysis that a lot of younger people seem to struggle with — me included.

To help you prepare for this part of the interview process, we’ve picked out the 5 most common questions and have shared our thoughts on what we think the best way approach is to answering them.

1. Why do you want to work for us?

This gets asked in nearly every interview so you should be prepared to answer this question. If you’re focusing on candidate-centric things like work-life balance, benefits, compensation, better commute — you’re thinking about this question wrong.

Do your research on the job and company so you can give a few solid examples on not only why you’re a good fit for the company but how you can add value.

There are no right or wrong answers to this question but there are definitely good and bad ones. Therefore, it’s important that you show self-awareness of your skills and can clearly articulate your motivation for this specific role with this specific company.

2. Tell me about an accomplishment you’re proud of.

Some interviewers are happy to hear about accomplishments outside of work, while others will be more interested in hearing about something more work-related — it’s alright to ask if they have a preference for one or the other.

With this question, they want to find out what you’ve done that sets you apart from the rest of the candidates. If you’re uncomfortable bragging, remember that they’re just trying to get a glimpse of your personality.

Interviews can be boring, but thankfully most people are not. This open-ended question gives you a chance to talk about something other than the position and your work experience. It doesn’t matter what you’re proud of, as long as you’re proud of something.

So don’t worry about sounding like you’re full of yourself. Tell a short, interesting story about what you did, why it mattered to you and what you learned from it.

3. Tell me about a time you solved a problem at work.

The interviewer here is looking at two things;

  • What was the issue?
  • How did you approach it?

They’re trying to get an idea of not only your decision-making process but how you behave at work. The problem that you solved is unimportant. What the interviewer is looking for is how you solved it and whether that is alignment with their company’s values.

While some roles are highly collaborative in nature and therefore require a lot of teamwork, the requirements for other roles can focus a lot on using your initiative and working by yourself.

Closely examine the job spec and the requirements listed prior to the interview to get a clear definition of what their expectations are for the role and then reflect on a relevant example that you have. We’ve already covered using the STAR method to answer questions and it can easily be applied to this question.

4. How do you like to be managed?

What the interviewer is doing here is assessing what your work preferences are. Generally, employees who have a strong working relationship with their manager tend to not only perform better but also stay at companies longer than those who don’t.

In essence, they’re trying to uncover what your “perfect” manager would look like. Try to think about previous bosses that you’ve enjoyed working with, the management style they employed and why you enjoyed working with them.

Do you prefer those who are more process-driven or do you prefer having more autonomy to make decisions? Do you prefer weekly face-to-face meetings or would you rather keep in touch over email daily?

You need to go in with a good idea of how you like to go about your work but also have enough research behind you so you can align that with what their expectations are for the role. Most managers can accommodate workers with different preferences and needs, but only if you’re able to articulate it correctly.

5. How would your previous colleagues describe you?

Many modern companies actively work to foster a strong culture by organising team-building activities such as day-trips, happy hours and other events. Therefore, it makes sense that when they’re looking for people to bring in that they’ll want people who can add to this environment.

So, are they all business or are they party animals? As always, do your research on the company prior and get a feel for where exactly on this spectrum they lie and base your answer off of that. If you read through the job spec closely, it’s likely there’ll be some insights into the traits they’re looking for in their ideal candidate.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

You’re face-to-face with a doe-eyed interviewee holding a rockstar résumé, and you’re seriously tempted to lock the person into a contractual agreement on the spot. As the hiring manager for your agency, you’re searching for the best of the best in your industry, and you’re positive you’ve finally found it.

So what’s stopping you?

Agencies are places of collaboration, and for this to work, everyone needs to “get along” or at least be able to work productively together. According to psychologist and culture fit expert Natalie Baumgartner, 89% of new hires who fail do so because they were a poor fit in the workplace. An applicant may look perfect on paper, but if he doesn’t mesh with your cultural vibe, you’ll both be happier parting ways now.

Avoid the high costs of turnover, and keep your company culture secure by asking these five questions in your next interview:

1) What activities do you do outside of work that benefit your day-to-day job?

Whether it’s exercise to let off steam or attending local networking events to get involved with the community, someone who has his own personal development strategy is someone who takes charge of his own destiny. You’re looking for someone who is inspired outside of the office — because that inspiration will trickle back into your agency and the work.

2) Can you give me a random bit of trivia about yourself?

This question will reveal how comfortable a person feels chatting with you. If he answers with something short and standoffish, you know he might take some time to warm up to the team. If he answers with something he perceives as embarrassing, like he runs a Harry Potter fan site, he just might fit in with your eccentric crew.

3) How do you feel about our company values?

An interview is a two-way street, so the candidate should have done his part to discover key facts about your company. He should know if it is a good fit for him.

Ask this question to see how much pre-interview research the candidate did, and use it to open up a conversation about your company’s culture and why you value it. Remember: You want the interviewee to be honest, so award him the same courtesy by painting an accurate picture of what your company culture is like today. Avoid using aspirational buzzwords when describing your company, and be as authentic as possible.

4) Tell me a time about when you encountered a conflict with a co-worker. How did you overcome it?

Employees must have solid interpersonal skills; otherwise, your company culture will lose its flavor faster than a piece of Dubble Bubble gum. There will always be times when co-workers disagree, but it’s how they handle situations and move on that matters.

5) Would you be willing to take a DISC assessment?

DISC is a personality assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston. A DISC assessment allows co-workers to understand each other in a profound way. It reveals what people are motivated by, their ideal environment, dislikes, communications do’s and don’ts, and even hidden desires. DISC offers fascinating insight, but it won’t tell you everything. Trust your gut, and bring promising applicants back for a second interview with another manager if you’re really unsure.

Part science and part gut check, hiring a new employee is an exhaustive task that can be made easier — and exponentially more successful — when you analyze if candidates are great culture fits, not just whether or not they can do the job.

Understand your culture, protect it, and find people who believe it. It’s the only way you can hope to have a culture to call your own.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

The top questions to ask in an interview to assess your cultural fit.

When it comes to job satisfaction, there’s a special ingredient that holds the key to happiness and success in a role: it’s called “cultural fit.”

The Harvard Business Review describes cultural fit as the likelihood that someone will reflect and/or be able to adapt to the core beliefs, attitudes,
and behaviours that make up an organisation.

At Hudson, we know from experience how important cultural fit is to an employee’s performance, happiness and longevity in a role – because individuals will only thrive in an environment where they feel comfortable, and within an organisation
whose values align with their own.

It doesn’t matter how attractive the role is – if there’s not the right fit between you and the organisation, you probably won’t work out there in the long term.

Cultural fit is hard to get right. What questions
can you ask in an interview to help you decide if the organisation is right for you?

  • How would you describe the company culture?Asking directly about the organisational culture is the first place to start. How the interviewer responds will tell you if there is a clearly defined culture and ethos that permeates the organisation that they can clearly articulate.If you get the opportunity, ask this question to more than one person to see if you get a consistent answer. Also see if the response is consistent with the organisation’s mission statement, which is often published on the company website.
  • What personality traits are important to be successful in this organisation?Finding out what personality traits they’re looking for will reveal the qualities they value and help you assess if you’re the right fit for the organisation.There’s no point trying to pretend to be you’re something you’re not.

Finally, you will be able to glean many clues about the organisation’s culture without directly asking questions. The types of questions they ask in the interview will tell you what they place most importance on and whether cultural fit is a top
priority for them. How interested are they in your personality, values and motivational drivers? Do they ask about your working and management preferences? Do they use formal psychometric assessments? If so, then they are as interested in getting the fit right as you are.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

cultureslide – The term, coined by English architect, William suppliers head, in 1847, for a new building which… – refers to a brochure, printed in newspapers or on the internet.

Culturelaborators, sometimes called culture inquires, are engaged by a company to help develop a brand new business, or improve a long running relationship, bridge, optimize the use of assets, or adapt current working methods to a new environment.

Culturelaborators, whether human resource, marketing, design, or interior designers, work to analyze the culture of the company and work toward improvement in a specific area of the life cycle of the business.

Culture inquires might expand to corporate values, wage systems, government regulations, or even the non- Definitions of culture such as family values or religious beliefs. Culture indicators are used by everybody from university professors, to small business owners, trainers, and corporate recruiters.

People and events in our culture are always changing. This is partly because the world is dynamic and artists are constantly creating new products and experiences. But it is also because we are constructing our own values, standards, and knowledge in our own lives. It is inevitable that our values will be different or even opposite to those of our clients. That is why it is so important to find the right cultural fit rather than the cultural fit for you.

Online cultural selection and the elements of cultural fit are the parameters that will help businesses decide the most appropriate changes, changes which will increase sales and market value. The actual value added or the bottom line will be determined by the actual goal of the business, that is, what it means in practical terms for the company to sell more and be more successful.

cultural fit tool

This is a cultural selection and inquiry tool that is used by Organizations (like universities and companies) and Individuals (like you) to determine cultural fit between the two. Obviously, this is a very sensitive area. It is used to help companies and organizations to make sure that their new employees will mesh with the company or organization’s culture.

To use this tool, you need to understand the key cultural values of the target business or organization and then compare these to your own cultural values. This will give you an idea of the cultural fit between the two of you, and help you create a cultural training program for the new employees.

In addition to the traditional recruitment categories, you can also analyse the target organisation’s website to deduce another list of key cultural values. And you can ask interviewees what aspects of the culture they find most interesting, difficult to cope with and most fulfilling.

cultural fit interview

Interviewees are chosen at random to determine the level of cultural fit between the interviewee and the company. It is unweighted, blind and random.

It is the aim of the cultural fit interview to find out what the interviewee’s cultural distance is between that of the interviewer and the employee being interviewed. This is done through a set of questions which are asked randomly.

These questions are questions about the employee’s experience and what they have learnt at college, universities, training institutions and in previous jobs.

ceeding in the cultural fit interview is all about aptitude and how the applicant appears to the interviewer. The cultural fit interview is about the “fit” of the applicant and the interviewer, that is, how well they get along and work well together.

Cultural fit interview questions are about what the employee would expect if they were to work in the company. These questions are about the deeper levels of the psyche of the applicant with the organisation, for example: why do you want to work with us? What are our most important values, and what are our most defining moments.

Often the cultural fit interview is simply about asking the questions we want to know about the psyche of the applicant: what are their goals, why do they want to work with us?

What we want to know in the cultural fit interview are two key items: what theoorwaysin the company, and what we as an organisation can do to realise the applicant’s potential and a balance of the two…

Information sought from the cultural fit interview continues with questions about the individual’s skills, what motivates them, their perceived failures and whether or not they would consider a move. The interviewer may use judgement, but they are looking for evidence of the right personality attributes for the job, and the behavioural format of the questions will normally give them the evidence they are looking for.

Cultural fit interview questions

The interviewer may or may not give you a numerical rating for each answer, but they will look for evidence of your past good values and how they translated into reality in your answers.

Even if the interviewer explains why they chose to ask this or that (for example, a high level of motivation or stress testing the answers) consider taking time to think about how best to answer this question.

I'm a developer and have gone through the entire interview process with a company and all that's left is a cultural fit interview with two of the companies directors. Right now the whole vibe that I'm getting ( after passing a technical test and two technical interviews ) is that I've got the position in the bag and this 'cultural fit' interview is more a formality and just an opportunity to meet face-to-face ( the whole process so far has been completely remote ).

So with this "interview" there won't be any technical questions and so the only way to "fail" then is to make them believe that I won't fit into their company culture. I can't imagine a cultural fit interview is something you really can prepare for. Either after talking to you and getting a feel for your personality they believe you're a good fit or you're not.

With that said, is there a way to mess this up? Any pointers?

Also, I've got a crystal clear idea of where they're at technically and the size of the team I'll be working in. But other than that I can't think of anything more to ask. But I do feel that I at least need to have SOME questions for them, I feel it's a bit sloppy if they ask you if you have any questions for them and you just reply "Nope, nothing I can think of. ".

Company culture refers to the shared values, practices, and beliefs of what an organization stands for. It can easily be explained as the personality of a business, including its mission, expectations, and work atmosphere.

Usually, talent management searches for candidates whose own values, beliefs, outlook, and behavior suit their company's culture. Why? The answer is simple. Employees that match the company's personality and fit well within the work environment are more likely to be satisfied and happy with their job. As a result, the likelihood of talent retention increases, as well as their job performance.

During an interview process, behavioral questions such as, “Give us an example of someone you worked well with,” allows talent management to evaluate if your style and attitude are suited for the company. Your responses reveal your unique skills, abilities, and personality.

Crafting a great answer to behavioral questions can be tricky. Luckily for you, we have a full list of tips on how to answer them!

1. How would your colleagues describe you (if you are working) or how would your classmates describe you (if you are studying or have recently graduated)?

A helpful tip to prepare for this type of question is to ask someone close to you to describe an occasion in which you were your best self. This will allow you to get a good picture of the positive attributes others see in you. Describe yourself in a positive light that demonstrates you share the values of the company – hopefully, we assume, you have done your homework and know what the organization’s culture is about! -. But don’t overdo it, you don’t want to come off as arrogant!

2. What motivates you?

Hiring managers want to know what makes you tick. It's also a way to determine whether your motivators and personality will be a fit for the job duties. When answering this question, be honest — but keep your audience in mind. For example, if you are applying to be a receptionist, an answer built around your passion for helping others and providing excellent customer service might be a stronger answer than saying you are individually motivated and prefer to work alone. Make sure to address your best skills and abilities fitted for the job.

3. Tell me about a team project when you had to work with someone difficult.

Here, talent management wants to evaluate how you handle stressful situations and whether you are a good team player or not. Remember, you must be able to deal with conflict professionally to succeed at work. The best way to answer this question is to briefly describe the context that arose (without getting caught up in unnecessary details), talk about the key actions you took, and finish with a positive description of the outcome of your efforts.

You might encounter similar questions to this one, like: “Tell us about a particular time when you had to deal with an unexpected situation?” You want to show the interviewer you have the problem-solving skills needed to manage conflict.

4. Tell us about a particular achievement at work or school.

At this point of the interview, talent management wants to find out what you’ve done that sets you apart from the rest of the candidates. Choose a story that highlights your best qualities and makes you stand out. Consider moments in your career or life that you are proudest of and emphasize what you value in those moments. That way, you can show the interviewer how well your values link with those of the company’s culture.

5. Describe an occasion when you made a customer or client pleased with the service you gave them.

This is your chance to showcase you can go above and beyond when it comes to doing your job. Prepare an answer that describes a genuine example of your excellent service skills. Remember to mention the key actions you took and the finishing results that made the client pleased with your service.

6. Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?

It might seem like the obvious answer is to respond you prefer to work as part of a team. But there are positive aspects to both options. Mention your preference, but explain that you’re flexible. For example, if you prefer working alone, a better way to express it is by saying: “I can work independently to complete my tasks on time, but I also enjoy brainstorming and collaborating with my colleagues.” Choose your answer depending on the job and project needed to be done.

7. What would you do if you don’t get the job?

Look for another one? That might be the obvious answer. But, this question allows the interviewer to measure how you deal with obstacles or failure. If it so happens that you are asked this question, be sure to express that you will use this experience as an opportunity for improvement. End it on a positive note!

There are no right or wrong answers, but preparing in advance will increase your confidence for your interview and will help you make a stronger impression.

Now that you’re done answering questions, you want to measure your own fit within the company. Here is a list of the best questions to ask at the end of an interview that’ll help you decide if the job you’re applying to is a good fit for you as well.

A job candidate may look great on paper, but will they fit within your organization?

Cultural fit is one of the most important things hiring professionals need to evaluate for in a job interview, but it’s also one of the most challenging traits to identify. Without working with an applicant, or knowing them, determining whether they are a good fit for the team is difficult. But, asking the right interview questions can help.

Here are some of the best interview questions to evaluate a job candidate’s potential to fit within your company culture:

1. “If I walk by your desk at 5:30 p.m., what will I see?”

Their answer will reveal their view of work and their thoughts on what a workplace should be like. You can evaluate that against your culture.

Does everyone stay until 9 p.m. to work? Is everyone gone at 4:30 p.m. to beat traffic? Is there a startup feel where everyone works remotely, but all the time?

If the candidate says, “I’m long gone,” then you know how they stack against your culture. If they say, “I’m working hard and ordering takeout dinner,” you know whether they fit in or if they are an outlier.

I’ve gotten answers all over the map from, “I’d be organizing my desk for the next morning,” to “You’d see my phone forwarded so I can work from home in the evening.”

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

2. “What are you most passionate about?”

What ignites excitement and fire in your heart? The common denominator of success and happiness is painfully simple — it’s our fuel of purpose.

A life fueled by a purpose of passion will always create more passion. Passion begets passion;

positivity begets positivity. So, an interviewee that is able to identify their passion is one step closer to being able to work toward — and for — that passion, which will, in turn, yield happiness and, ultimately, success.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

3. “Describe your ideal work environment.”

If you had a magic wand and could create your perfect job and work environment, what would it look like?

I like the idea of giving a candidate a blank slate to articulate what he or she desires in an organization. In my experience, their responses immediately highlight whether or not their ideals align with the company culture.

4. “If we were stuck, what would you do?”

I ask myself this question throughout the interview process, as well. The question is: If I were traveling on business with this individual and we got stuck at an airport for an unexpected 12-hour layover with nowhere to go, would it be a comfortable experience or a nightmare?

When the going gets tough — and it does within any organization — I need to know that there is enough of a comfort zone with each one of my employees where we can weather any obstacle that comes our way. As a scaling firm, we experience growing pains and need people who reflect our values and with whom we are comfortable navigating any hurdles.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

Marina Byezhanova , Partner and Director of Candidate Experience, Pronexia Inc.

5. “Walk me through your perfect work day.”

This question provides a candidate the chance to highlight what they value in a workplace. Do they prefer to work independently or with teams? How does socializing fit into their idea of working?

Most interviews are structured to assess a candidate’s competence to do the role and then how they will fit. This question provides a glimpse into what the employee values, which we can compare to our company.

What are your favorite interview questions to assess cultural fit? Let us know in the comments below!

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

The right skill set is only one factor in finding the perfect candidate — and arguably, in a fast-paced startup, it’s at least equally as important as culture fit. How your potential hire complements your current employees can have a major impact on team morale and overall execution.

But interviewing is an imperfect process; having such a limited amount of time with each prospective employee makes it challenging to evaluate soft skills and personality. Luckily, many of our members from YEC have had considerable practice in this area, so we asked them to share the No. 1 question they use to assess a future employee’s culture fit. Their best answers are below.

1. What’s the greatest work day of your life?

I believe we found this question on LifeHacker and have found it to be an incredible tool for determining if an employee is going to be a good fit. The question asks the candidate to think about what it would be like to work for you and what is going to inspire them. If their “greatest day” doesn’t reflect our “purpose” for them, they aren’t likely a good match for us.–Joshua Dorkin, BiggerPockets

2. What was the best way you delegated a task?

I don’t like to work with the constant enforcement of work hierarchy, which means that all of the employees that I hire won’t be entry-level or even “lower-level” at all. I’m hiring future leaders. So when I ask them the question, “What’s the best way you delegated a task?” I’m really asking them how they lead. I learn through their answer whether they’re up to the leadership tasks.–Rob Fulton, Audio Luminaries

3. What was a time you didn’t know how to do something?

The space we’re in is incredibly fast-paced. With new technologies and platforms launching every day, there’s a lot to know. We need to make sure everyone that joins the team has strong problem-solving abilities and can think on their feet. So the question I always ask is “Can you tell me about a time when you were tasked with something you didn’t know how to do, and how you overcame it?”–Michael King, IPullRank

4. What is teamwork to you?

I ask each and every employee what teamwork is to them, but I tend to have them answer this question in front of the other team members they would be working with. This allows the appropriate team members to decide if the candidate is the right fit for them. I’ve found that they weed people out a lot better than I ever could!–John Rampton, Due

5. How would you fly a helicopter full of peanuts?

Make up your own insane question. Ask it right in the middle of your list of normal interview questions. This helps you assess the candidate’s critical thinking and management skills. Do they ask too many qualifying questions or not enough? Is their solution in alignment with your core values? Crazy questions create a very real environment that the candidate can’t prepare for.–Adam Roozen, Echidna, Inc.

6. What can your hobbies tell me that your resume can’t?

As a LEGO rental business, we are always looking for creative people. If I interview an engineer whose only interest is coding, we might get an exceptional coder, but one that can’t really help the team overcome the many challenges we face on a daily basis. We are looking for people with broad interests, and free-time activities can show us that.–Ranan Lachman, Pley

7. What are your 3 ideal job qualities?

I always ask candidates to tell me the top three most important things about their ideal job. Their answers can tell you a lot. For example, if one of the three is not financially oriented, this person may not have a good sense of measuring their work and time.–Samira Far, Bellacures Franchising LLC

8. If you won a million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with the money?

There is really no right or wrong answer here, but rather a glimpse into how this person will manage. The amount is significant enough for them to think about what they would do with it. You may get honest and quick answers upon asking, but I find that how they handle a million dollars says a lot about their character.–Souny West, CHiC Capital

9. If you could open your own business, what would it be and why?

I think this question is effective at gaining a bit of an understanding into the entrepreneurial spirit of the candidate. Successful team members in our company are entrepreneurs at heart. They’re proactive and they appreciate the notion of putting their whole selves into what they do.–Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture

10 . What is one thing you believe that most people do not?

This is the question that Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and lead investor in Facebook, asks all prospective hires. The idea is to gauge a candidate’s ability to think independently, regardless of what popular beliefs might be. The very best employees are the ones who come up with the valuable ideas and breakthroughs that no one else will, and this question screens for that potential.–Sathvik Tantry, FormSwift

11. How well do you adapt to change?

Startups are constantly evolving. Change doesn’t have to mean a major pivot. It can mean a new office, a rapidly expanding staff, or a broader set of employee responsibilities and expectations than originally expected. Each member of your team needs to be open to evolving alongside your business. Make sure a candidate has the soft skills to handle the rapid pace of change at your company.–Heather Schwarz-Lopes, EarlyShares

12. What personality traits do you butt heads with?

I often tell the story about when I was young and found the one personality that I’d butt heads with. In turn, I ask, “What kind of personality or specific character trait seems to rub you the wrong way?” The answer often reveals the type of person they won’t get along with and, as such, if they’ll struggle to connect with the people in our company.–David Ciccarelli, Voices.com

13. What are you passionate about?

Finding someone who can combine a mission-driven mindset and a creative, can-do attitude is key to fitting in with the ThinkCERCA team . Our mission is at the core of everything we do, so we ask interviewees about why education is important to them personally. We also spend the last 10 minutes just getting to know them as a person.–Abby Ross, ThinkCERCA

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

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When searching for a new member to join your team, it’s important to consider not only the candidate’s experience and qualifications, but also whether or not they would fit into your unique company culture.

A recent study by Cubiks showed that 82 percent of hiring managers think measuring cultural fit is important, which makes sense because 54 percent said their organization has a clear definition of its culture. While “job fit” is often a hiring manager’s primary focus, a candidate should also fit within the company’s values, beliefs and behaviors.

It can be tough enough to determine the cultural fit of a candidate who will spend their work days in the office. Assessing the cultural fit of a virtual candidate, however, can feel even more daunting. How can you be sure a person will fit into the virtual work environment and be a good addition to your team?

The next time you’re conducting a video interview, try asking some of the following questions to help you gain a better idea of how that candidate will fit into your company’s culture:

1. In what type of work environment are you most productive and happy?

A candidate’s answer to this question will give you an idea of what work environment they find most enjoyable and is thus conducive to their productivity. This is particularly important when hiring for a virtual position, as you want to find someone who can thrive while working largely independently. While working from home has its advantages, it’s not suited for everyone.

2. How would past coworkers best describe your work style?

This question gives the candidate an opportunity to tell you about their work style from another’s point of view. Did their former coworkers often compliment them on their ability to prioritize and complete tasks under strict deadlines? This is great to know when searching for a virtual employee. Additionally, it allows the candidate to talk about their strengths without coming off as arrogant.

3. What management style motivates you to do your best work?

A company’s management style can be a helpful factor when determining a potential employee’s cultural fit. A survey of about 2,000 adults, organized by Harris Interactive on behalf of Glassdoor, found that 53 percent of employees say they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss. Considering that fact, it would be helpful to find out what management style a potential employee works best under.

4. When working with a team, what role are you most likely to play?

This is a great question to ask during an interview in general, but also it can help you better determine a candidate’s ability to fit within your company culture. For a virtual position, it’s likely you’re looking for someone who can hold their own within a team — not the dreaded teammate who heavily relies on everyone else.

5. What were the positive/negative aspects of your previous job and work environment?

This last question gives the candidate an opportunity to tell you more about their previous role and what they experienced, both good and bad. This will help you decide if your company’s work pace and structure align with the candidate’s preferences.

Find out what they liked best about the position and also what they didn’t like. If a candidate didn’t like the fact that they mostly worked in teams at their last job, it’s likely that they are better suited from a more independent work environment.

Does cultural fit play a role in your hiring process? If so, what interview questions do you ask to assess a candidate’s cultural fit?

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video interview solution used by more than 2,000 companies across the globe. Learn more about hiring for cultural fit and connect with Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

Know exactly what you’re looking for by creating a Candidate Scorecard before you interview.

People aren’t always aware of how much culture shapes them. The foods we think are normal or the attitudes and belief systems we accept often reflect the culture we live in. When you go in for an interview, the employer may fire some cultural sensitivity interview questions at you to measure your awareness and ability to deal with other cultures on the job.

Cultural sensitivity interview questions often ask for specific examples from your career. Concentrate on remembering an incidence and the details involved so that you’re ready when the interviewer asks.

Cultural Awareness: What Is It?

Cultural awareness refers to the awareness that culture influences everything from how we eat and talk to how we approach our jobs, explains Commisceo Global. When you’re culturally aware, you’re conscious of how your own culture has shaped you. In addition, you respect differences that stem from coworkers and clients having roots in a different culture.

New York City defines cultural sensitivity in similar terms: being aware that cultural differences exist but not judging them as better or worse than your own culture. For example, when dealing with a Chinese or Nigerian colleague, cultural sensitivity means not insisting the American approach to collaboration or authority is the only right one.

The National Institute of Health says cultural competence is the ability to increase your understanding of cultural differences. A culturally competent professional is willing and able to improve the workplace by acknowledging and respecting team members’ diverse values and customs. What seems politely friendly in one culture may come off as inappropriate in another; a culturally competent person adapts to this.

Commisceo Global notes that a lack of cultural awareness can hurt a company in multiple ways. Ad campaigns have flopped in foreign countries because they didn’t take into account how words or brand names might translate or because of different cultural attitudes toward men, women and authority. It can also hurt teams if different employees can’t understand why their colleagues act in the “wrong” way.

Cultural Awareness Interview: Questions and Answers

The Big Interview website says that even if a job posting doesn’t list cultural awareness as a desired skill, an organization that emphasizes diversity will probably value it. That means you may be hit with cultural sensitivity interview questions like these:

  • Tell me about working with individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
  • Give an example you’ve seen of culturally insensitive workplace behavior.
  • Have you had experience supervising or working with a diverse team?
  • Tell about a time you had to take someone else’s cultural perspective into account.
  • Have you ever had problems working with someone of a different cultural background?

Cultural awareness interview questions and answers are tricky to handle. They’re often specific rather than general “what are your cultural sensitivity strengths?” questions. It’s often hard to come up with good examples under the gun. Just like workplace cultural clashes, it’s easy to come off offensive instead of culturally aware if you say the wrong thing.

Sit down and review your career before the interview to come up with a good example or two you can use. My Interview Practice recommends using the STAR format, standing for Situation, Task, Action and Result. Think of a situation where you had to exercise cultural awareness. Describe the task you were working on, your actions and the results. Emphasize how your cultural awareness shaped your actions and decisions at each step. Rehearse until you can tell the story smoothly.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

A recent survey revealed a majority of adults value company culture over salary … but how can you evaluate a company’s culture before taking the job?

You might be surprised to learn that more than half of adults consider a company’s culture more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction, according to a recent Glassdoor survey. Additionally, 77 percent of adults take a company’s culture into consideration before even submitting an application — and it makes sense.

“You can have all the right qualifications for a role, but if you don’t mesh well with the organization and its team, you ultimately won’t be successful,” says Amanda Augustine, TopInterview’s career expert.

Yet, unlike salary and benefits, gauging a good cultural fit isn’t always straightforward. You can’t necessarily Google “[name of company]’s culture” and find your answers. Even if your search yields a result, you’ll probably find a bunch of buzzwords like “collaborative”, “fun”, “innovative”, and “inclusive.” There’s nothing wrong with those, but will they really tell you if the company is a good fit for you?

The best time to assess a company’s culture is during the interview process, where you can make your own observations and ask questions. Not sure where to start? Use these tips to help thoroughly evaluate a company’s culture during your next job interview:

1. Notice the way you’re initially received

You’re told first impressions are everything during job interviews, so you need to dress the part. But what about your first impression of the company? Notice what happens during the first minute of your interview experience. Does a receptionist greet you? Does it seem as though they’ve been expecting you? Or are they surprised and flustered? Or is no one around, so you linger awkwardly?

The way a company greets you can tell you a lot, so keep that in mind.

2. Request a tour of the office

Your point of contact will likely offer to show you around the office, but if he or she doesn’t, don’t be afraid to ask.

As you walk around, make mental notes on these specific areas:

Have employees personalized their workspaces — or are they pretty sparse?

How are the desks and workspaces arranged?

How do employees treat the receptionist?

What are the employees wearing? How are they interacting with each other?

What do the common areas look like? The meeting rooms?

Where are employees eating lunch? Are they eating at their desks or the break room?

Taking note of these details will help you better understand the values of the company and its employees.

3. Ask the right questions

Remember: A job interview should be a two-way street, so ask some questions to help gauge whether or not the company is a good cultural fit for you.

Sure, you can simply ask your interviewer to describe the company’s culture in three words. But you can also ask more subtle questions that’ll give you an idea of what the company values. These might include:

How long have you been with this company?

What’s your favorite part about working for this company?

What personalities tend to be successful here?

How does the company recognize employee wins?

How often does the company meet as a whole? How often do you have team meetings?

Are activities outside the office offered for employees?

Whether you value innovation, feedback, affirmation, teamwork, flexibility, or all the above, don’t hesitate to form questions around these values and ask them during your interview.

4. Evaluate your interview

After the actual interview, take some time to evaluate your overall experience.

First, consider the interview itself. Note the types of questions the interviewer(s) asked. This will help you better understand what’s important to the company and its employees. You might also consider the interview style. Was it a structured interview, which tends to be more formal and organized? Or was it a stress interview, which is designed to see how you react under stress? Or maybe it was unstructured — more laid-back and conversational. If the interview style didn’t sit well with you, that’s something to look at.

Second, consider your overall experience. Did you feel at ease? Did you connect with your interviewers? Did you find yourself nodding along as the interviewers answered your questions about company culture — or did something in your gut feel off?

Finally, consider the entire recruitment process. How quickly has it moved? How many steps has it required? What are the next steps? Are those clear? Has the company valued your time? Answer these questions to yourself, taking note of how smooth the entire process has been.

Final thoughts on evaluating company culture

When it comes to assessing a company’s culture, you can research, ask questions, and chat with as many people as you want, but in the end, you’ll need to trust your gut. Sure, it sounds cheesy, but you’ll probably have a good —or bad — feeling about your interview experience, so don’t disregard those feelings.

Remember: Salary and benefits are important, but you’ll spend most of your days in an office, so you want to feel as though you fit in and can fully support the company and its values.

Before assessing the cultural fit of a company in your interview, work with a professional interview coach from TopInterview to gain the confidence you need to ask all the right questions.

How to answer cultural fit interview questions

The Harvard Business Review describes cultural fit as the likelihood that someone will reflect and/or be able to adapt to the core beliefs, attitudes,
and behaviours that make up an organisation.

At Hudson, we know from experience how important cultural fit is to an employee’s performance, happiness and longevity in a role – because individuals will only thrive in an environment where they feel comfortable, and within an organisation
whose values align with their own.

It doesn’t matter how attractive the role is – if there’s not the right fit between you and the organisation, you probably won’t work out there in the long term.

Cultural fit is hard to get right. What questions
can you ask in an interview to help you decide if the organisation is right for you?

    How would you describe the company culture?

Asking directly about the organisational culture is the first place to start. How the interviewer responds will tell you if there is a clearly defined culture and ethos that permeates the organisation that they can clearly articulate.

If you get the opportunity, ask this question to more than one person to see if you get a consistent answer. Also see if the response is consistent with the organisation’s mission statement, which is often published on the company website.

Finding out what personality traits they’re looking for will reveal the qualities they value and help you assess if you’re the right fit for the organisation.

There’s no point trying to pretend to be you’re something you’re not.

For example, the organisational culture might suit people who are highly competitive, entrepreneurial or exuberant, whereas you might prefer consistency and quiet.

Different people prefer different management styles. Some flourish when working for leaders with a consultative management style, while others prefer managers who provide lots of direction. It’s important to know what you’ll be getting
into, so you can decide if the management style of the organisation is one you’ll feel comfortable with and could adapt well to.

This question will tell you if the organisation values and demonstrates commitment to their employees’ development with formal training programs, with a view to career progression within the organisation. A business that invests in the professional
development of its people might be one you’re more inclined to commit to in the longer term.

The way an organisation rewards performance reveals a lot about their cultural values. Do they only reward things like sales and revenue, or do they recognise other qualities and achievements? Do they celebrate their employees’ successes
and milestones, offer bonuses or non-monetary rewards, and do they reward individuals or teams? These will give you a good insight into the kind of environment they create, and how they motivate their staff. Are these the things that would
motivate you?

The interviewer’s response to this question will help you understand the organisational culture on a more personal level. They might say they love having the freedom to be creative and take risks, that they feel heard and respected by upper
management, or that the camaraderie with colleagues makes even the most stressful day bearable. What is highlighted will help you determine if this is an environment that you could see yourself working in – and loving.

For some people, working for an organisation that demonstrates a commitment to certain causes or issues is extremely important. CSR programs can take many forms, from having a ‘green’ workplace to gender equality and diversity programs
or charity donations. If these are high on your values list, it’s important to know whether the organisation shares the same values and backs them up with actions.

Finally, you will be able to glean many clues about the organisation’s culture without directly asking questions. The types of questions they ask in the interview will tell you what they place most importance on and whether cultural fit is a top
priority for them. How interested are they in your personality, values and motivational drivers? Do they ask about your working and management preferences? Do they use formal psychometric assessments? If so, then they are as interested in getting the fit right as you are.

If you’re about to take a culture fit test, which many employers use in the hiring process, you should start preparing today to learn as much as you can. JobTestPrep provides study tips about culture fit tests and how they differ from regular personality tests. Our PrepPack™ includes a thorough guide to prepare you to take a culture fit test and make a great impression. Start preparing today.

About Culture Fit

One aspect a company may look at when hiring is cultural fit. Culture fit is when a company evaluates how a potential employee may express the characteristics, language, and values that exist within the current organizational culture.

Companies usually only want candidates whose beliefs and behavior systems appear compatible with the company’s specific culture. When a candidate’s values, beliefs, outlook, and behavior are compatible with those existing within the company, he or she is likely to be a good cultural fit.

When Is Culture Fit Used in the Hiring Process

When a company is assessing a candidate’s culture fit, it may use different tools. For instance, it may employ an interview, an assessment test, or a personality test.

The interview is the most likely time for culture fit to be assessed. The interview enables employees to determine if a candidate fits the job. The purpose of most interview questions is to assess a candidate’s cultural fit.

Culture fit assessment tests ask a candidate about his or her experiences and personality. Some examples of this are personal preferences, how the candidate acts in different situations, views, and opinions. The assessment can also be viewed as a personality test.

A personality test can be used to show what traits a candidate possesses. An employer may take the results of a personality test and compare them with what the company is looking for in a person applying for a specific position.

For employers, a deciding factor in whether or not a candidate gets the job is how he or she answers questions. For example, seeing how a candidate approached a variety of work situations in the past can tell an employer if the candidate’s style and behavior are compatible with the company.

Examples of Culture Fit

Here are some examples of culture interview questions:

  • Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
  • What role are you are most likely to play in a team? Give an example.
  • What is your leadership style?
  • How would your co-workers describe your work style?
  • Describe an occasion when you made a customer or client pleased with the service you gave them?
  • How would people you have worked with describe their relationship with you?

Some companies use a culture fit assessment test. Below is an example of a type of question that may be found on the assessment.

Pick only one of the following:

I always do my best to inspire others.

OR

I ensure I have 100% of the information before taking risks.

Preparing for Culture Fit Assessment Tests

The best way to prepare for a culture fit assessment is to learn about the company before going in for an interview or taking an assessment test. Learning about what is important to the company and how things are run may help you get a better idea of what it is looking for in an applicant. In addition to learning about the company, taking practice personality tests can help you learn more about yourself and how a company may view your traits. Start preparing with JobTestPrep’s personality practice test today.

As a human resources manager or hiring manager, you’re likely familiar with the term “culture fit”, which means hiring individuals who fit into your team and who are a good match with your company culture.

For an outdoors company, hiring for culture fit could mean hiring individuals who are into hiking or camping or marathons. A company selling plant-based products may want to hire individuals who follow a vegan lifestyle for a good cultural fit.

More broadly, hiring for culture fit means short-listing, and hiring, candidates who have experience or education similar to that of current employees—or individuals with similar traits or interests.

However, hiring for culture fit does have some disadvantages as it can often promote homogeneity and a lack of diversity within your organization. If you’re overly focusing on cultural fit during the recruitment process, you might be missing out on qualified candidates.

The solution? Focus on “culture add” throughout the interview process to find and hire employees who will add value and different perspectives to your workplace culture and organization.

Continue reading to learn more about the concept of culture add, including how to make the shift from culture fit and which interview questions to ask to assess culture add and hire top talent.

The practice of hiring for culture fit has come under scrutiny for its tendency towards implicit (unconscious) bias.

Lars Schmidt, a contributor for Forbes on recruiting, culture, employer branding and the future of work, has said this about culture fit : “A hiring process built around an undefined notion of ‘culture fit’ is fraught with bias.”

Typically, culture fit focuses less on candidate experience and more on work style or personality. A qualified candidate who comes across as quiet during the interview process may be deemed a poor fit for a team that’s typically outspoken and outgoing.

However, if that same candidate is evaluated on their experience and you (the interviewer) ask yourself “What new processes and ideas does this candidate bring to my organization and team?”, the outcome could be entirely different. The focus shifts from finding someone who merely fits into your team to someone who actively adds value.

When hiring for culture add, there are culture add interview questions you should ask each candidate—and questions you should ask yourself—to determine the skills and value a potential employee could bring to your organization.

Here’s a list of questions to ask candidates:

  • Describe a time when you helped a coworker or direct report with a work problem.
  • Describe an occasion at work when you had to do something you didn’t agree with. How did you handle it?
  • How do you measure success at work? How does a successful day at work look for you?
  • Describe a time when you received feedback from a supervisor or someone on another team. How did you react? What was the end result?
  • What have you learned in the past year that you’re more proud of?
  • What are your career goals? Have they changed?
  • How do you like to be managed?
  • What attracted you to the role?
  • How do you maintain work-life balance?

Now, here’s a list of questions to ask yourself:

  • What gaps in our knowledge can this candidate fill?
  • Does the candidate have knowledge of any new processes or techniques that we would benefit from having?
  • Could this employee challenge our way of thinking and suggest improvements to our current processes?
  • Does this candidate represent a voice or viewpoint for our customers that we’re missing? Or would they help us better communicate with prospective customers by having this voice or viewpoint?

Companies who have a reputation of hiring for culture add, not culture fit, can attract more diverse candidates and get a leg up over competitors when it comes to talent acquisition.

By making culture add a significant part of your employer brand, you’ll be able to hire and retain employees who can help improve your processes and your revenue.