Before you hire a new employee, you want to make sure they’ll fit into your organization’s culture. Ideally, their values will align with your organization’s values, and they’ll have an attitude reflective of your organization’s principles.
For instance, if your company values innovation and creativity, you’ll want any potential hires to possess traits that align with those beliefs. Someone who fits well within your company’s culture is more likely to stay on board for the long term. They’ll enjoy their work and have a high level of productivity.
To find the best-fitting new employees, when you start your interview process, consider incorporating questions that can help you identify whether a candidate is a good culture fit.
Example interview questions focusing on culture fit
We’ve compiled a list of 49 interview questions you can use to assess your applicant’s potential culture fit.
- Can you describe your dream job?
- What do you find to be motivational at work?
- Can you describe our company culture?
- What excites you about your current job?
- What does work-life balance mean to you?
- Do you have a management style? What is it?
- Why did you apply for a role at this organization?
- Do you consider yourself to be a leader or a follower?
- How do you deal with conflicts with other colleagues?
- What do you plan to accomplish in the next five years?
- If given a chance, what type of business would you start?
- Do you think you’ll find this role challenging? In what way?
- Can you describe the steps you follow to make a decision?
- Are there any blogs or websites that you frequent regularly for your job?
- How do you manage communication with other colleagues?
- How would your current or former colleagues describe you?
- What advice would you give to someone early in their career?
- What do you find stressful about your current work environment?
- What do you find most appealing about working for this company?
- What allows you to stay organized at work, especially during busy periods?
- Which one of our company’s core values do you least identify with?
- How do you maintain productivity at work, even during challenging periods?
- What three words would your current manager use to describe you?
- What’s the ideal working environment to best benefit your productivity?
- Have you taken any professional risks? Can you describe an example?
- Can you think of a time when you’ve been most satisfied in your career?
- How would you handle criticism from a colleague who wasn’t your boss?
- Can you think of a time when you exceeded other people’s expectations at work?
- Is there a particular management style that you find especially motivating?
- Would you take your work home with you so you could meet a tight deadline?
- Are there any specific tools you find helpful for improving your work efficiency?
- If a senior colleague made a serious mistake, how would you handle it?
- What factors are most important for maintaining strong business relationships?
- Why are you leaving your current job? How would our company be a better fit?
- Is there a specific aspect of our organization’s culture that you find compelling?
- Do you believe that kindness and humor are essential qualities in the workplace?
- What do you like most about working for your current company? What do you like least?
- Can you describe a serious mistake you made at your last job? How did you handle it?
- Who is the most intelligent person you can think of? In your opinion, what makes them bright?
- Has a supervisor or colleague criticized you in the past? How did you react to their criticism?
- Think of a recent challenging situation you overcame at your current job. How did you handle it?
- Can you think of a previous professional relationship that didn’t work out? What was the cause?
- Do you consider yourself a collaborator or do you prefer to handle your work tasks independently?
- Can you think of a situation where your colleagues disagreed with your ideas? How did you handle it?
- Can you think of a prior boss or another leader you admire? What made them admirable to you?
- What is your idea of the perfect work schedule? Do you prefer an early start to the day or a later one?
- As an employee or manager, do you want to participate in every decision or are you happier with simply learning the outcome?
- Do you typically make friends and spend time with co-workers outside of work? How do you think that this impacts your professional relationships?
- Is there anything you would change about our hiring process? Can you think of anything on our website or in our business model that needs adjusting?
These questions should help you assess a job candidate’s values and expectations for the workplace. You’ll learn critical information that can help you decide whether the candidate will fit nicely into your work culture.
What to look for when you’re interviewing for culture fit
Before beginning the candidate interview process, it’s critical for hiring managers to list the top traits and values in the organization or department. That way, you’ll have an objective list to refer to as you listen to each applicant’s responses to your questions.
When you’re considering a candidate’s responses to your culture fit inquiries, you’ll want to compare them to your list of company values.
If you note qualities in the applicant’s answers that align with your organization’s principles, it indicates a potential culture fit. On the other hand, a candidate who provides answers that don’t align with the company’s culture may not be the right choice.
For instance, consider an SaaS company seeking a new marketing director. The SaaS company includes values such as innovation, creativity and customer service in its mission statement. The company considers itself a disruptor, and they want someone with a lot of energy and the ability to shake things up in the marketing department.
Two people interview for the marketing director position. One individual has 30 years of experience running marketing campaigns, but they heavily rely on traditional methods to reach new customers. They prefer sticking to tried-and-true marketing techniques and have a top-down management style.
The second candidate has only 10 years of experience. However, they’ve worked for several other SaaS companies, and they’re known for their expertise in digital marketing, including the newest trends in video and social media advertising. They believe customer experience is critical to successful marketing and sales.
Who is the better fit for the role?
The second candidate appears to align better with the company’s values. They’d likely assimilate well into the organization’s culture. The first candidate has lots of experience, but their values of tradition and bureaucracy aren’t the right culture fit.
When should you use questions about culture fit?
In most cases, you should sprinkle a few culture-fit questions into every interview. Culture-fit inquiries are just as crucial as other questions considering a candidate’s experience, skills and education.
A poor culture fit can result in an unhappy employee. People who don’t enjoy their working environment are less likely to perform at peak capacity, even if they have the skills to do so. They’re also more likely to leave in search of other positions that better align with their personal values and work expectations.
You should tailor your culture-fit questions to address the needs of each role. For example, if you’re seeking a data analyst, values like work ethic and accuracy are likely important. In your search for sales agents, you might seek individuals who are comfortable with criticism, place a premium on collaboration and value relationships.
The number of culture-fit questions you include in your interviews should vary by company needs and the role itself.
If you notice that a certain department has a high number of employees departing, there may be a problem either with employee value alignment or within the department’s culture. You’ll want to find people with the appropriate skills and professional outlook to handle each position while also maintaining a healthy departmental work culture.
Incorporating culture-fit questions can improve the quality of new hires
Many companies make the mistake of seeking individuals who possess the skills and experience to perform a job, but they fail to consider the impact that culture fit can have on the workplace.
Next time you hire a new employee, identify a few important values in your work environment. Pick a few questions from our list that will give insight into the candidate’s beliefs about those values. You can compare their answers to your list and decide whether their principles align with the organization.
You’ve likely found the right candidate when you find an applicant who has the right skills to do the job and also aligns with your organization’s core values.