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GuidesEmployee experienceMastering culture-fit interviews: top 30 questions to ask

Mastering culture-fit interviews: top 30 questions to ask

Last updated

12 April 2024

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Warren Jonas ACC

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Hiring a new employee is a multifaceted process. You must determine whether your candidate is qualified for the role and whether they are a good fit for your company.

Aligning a candidate with your established company values is commonly known as a culture fit. Someone who fits well with your company’s culture is more likely to stay with you in the long term, reducing high turnover rates and improving the employee experience.

Preparation is key to finding the best fit for your company culture. Establishing specific questions that uncover details about a candidate’s personality, values, and goals can help you with this. With the right questions in hand, you can go into a culture-fit interview with confidence and an open mind to find your business’s next great employee.

What is company culture?

Company culture refers to the values, attitudes, and behaviors that define the organization’s character. It’s what forms your company’s collective identity and sets the stage for the goals and tasks your employees carry out daily.

You can establish company culture in several ways, from the defined values and mission statement to the way the company approaches employee performance.

Every business wants a good company culture, but it’s not always easily achieved. Your company’s values need to be enacted daily. Leaders and managers need to show employees that they are as invested in the company’s values as everyone else, praising accomplishments quickly and nurturing a positive environment that makes employees happy to show up for work every day.

A big part of creating a positive company culture is hiring the right people. With motivated, happy employees, every other person in your organization will feel inspired to succeed.

What is culture fit?

Cultural fit involves assessing a potential employee’s values and ideals and comparing them to your company’s existing culture. Candidates who share similar values and goals are likely a good fit, while those who have wildly different values might not align well with the company vision.

Evaluating cultural fit through a resume or in a traditional interview is hard. Managers and HR professionals should outline a series of special questions. These questions can give you deep insight into a candidate’s personal life and work history, but they can also provide an idea of how well that candidate will do in the role they are applying for.

Why does cultural fit matter in the hiring process?

Even if a candidate is qualified for their role, that doesn’t automatically mean they are the right fit for your company. It’s important that your employees share your company’s vision, values, and culture and that they are willing to play their part to live up to them.

Culture fit vs. culture add

Hiring someone who fits into the mold of your company values is known as a culture fit. However, another hiring practice is gaining traction, especially in companies looking to expand to new markets or territories. It’s culture add.

A culture add is when you hire a candidate to add diversity to your company culture. It means you look for candidates who bring something new to the table, whether it’s experiences, skills, personalities, or backgrounds.

Both concepts have their place in the corporate world. Some people favor culture fit due to its tried-and-true pattern of helping companies find what (and who) tends to work best for them. Those who hire for culture add note that it’s a great way to expand the company’s horizons and discover new talent.

In either case, hiring the right candidate is about more than checking off boxes. Thoughtful interview questions will allow you to better understand candidates, their strengths, and how they can help your organization reach new heights.

15 cultural fit interview questions for employees

Company culture is an abstract, subjective concept. To that end, it can be hard to determine whether a candidate would be a good fit through traditional questions like, “What are your best qualities?” Cultural fit interview questions should dig a little deeper, making candidates pause and evaluate their patterns, reactions, and behaviors.

The cultural fit interview questions below for employees provide a starting point. You should adjust them to fit your company’s culture and change them accordingly.

  1. How do you ensure you frequently improve your skills?

  2. Do you often become friends with your coworkers?

  3. What management style do you work best with?

  4. Do you prefer tasks that require collaboration or projects you can complete alone?

  5. How do you prefer to receive feedback?

  6. How do you react to negative feedback?

  7. In what work environment do you produce your best work?

  8. Name your favorite activities that you do outside of work.

  9. How would your coworkers describe you?

  10. What do you need in a work environment to feel fulfilled?

  11. What do you need to be inspired and motivated at work?

  12. Why did you apply for a job at this company?

  13. Do you consider yourself to be a leader or a follower? Why?

  14. How do you manage communication with your colleagues?

  15. Which of our company’s core values do you most identify with?

15 culture-fit interview questions to ask leaders and managers

Cultural fit interview questions for leadership and management roles should be similar to those for other employees. However, you should include additional questions that focus on leadership styles, organization preferences, and conflict resolution skills. Allow the conversation to flow naturally and encourage your candidate to expand on their answers.

  1. Name three leadership styles. Which leadership style do you prefer to use?

  2. Name two values that help you resolve team conflict.

  3. Name two values that help you provide constructive criticism to team members.

  4. Which management values help you inspire coworkers?

  5. Which values help you manage remote teams?

  6. How do you stay organized?

  7. Which of our company values resonates the most with you?

  8. What would you change or improve about our business?

  9. Are there any other roles in our company that you’d like to interview for?

  10. What would you bring to our company that’s unique?

  11. Are there any specific tools you find helpful for improving your work efficiency?

  12. What do you believe are essential values in the workplace?

  13. Can you think of a previous professional relationship that didn’t work out? If so, what was the cause?

  14. Can you give an example of your ideal work schedule?

  15. Do you typically make friends and spend time with coworkers outside of work?

The dangers of hiring for cultural fit alone

Hiring for cultural fit can be a positive thing in most cases. Finding the right cultural fit means hiring employees who understand and embrace your company’s vision.

However, there’s a danger of hiring exclusively for cultural fit. Culture fit is highly subjective. It can be easy to let unconscious bias affect your hiring decisions. While it’s a good idea to trust your gut to a certain extent, exercise caution when forming opinions about candidates without knowledge to back it up.

Hiring only for cultural fit might also limit future growth opportunities by sticking with the status quo rather than embracing new ventures. The best candidates might not fit the established mold. In general, focus on the values, habits, and skills that will help someone be successful with your company rather than any superficial qualities. This will enable you to find the right candidates.

FAQs

What is an example of a culture fit?

Imagine a company hiring for a remote position and finding a candidate looking for a remote job with experience of working from home. That’s an example of culture fit.

Those hiring for a customer-facing role might look for candidates who display excellent customer service skills who are friendly and personable.

Companies that prioritize innovation might look for culture fit with candidates who are creative and open to trying new things.

How do I prepare for a value fit interview?

If you’re giving the interview, prepare by reviewing your questions in advance. Ensure there are no gaps in the questioning and that you have room for flexibility if new questions present themselves during the interview.

As the candidate, prepare for the interview by researching the company. Learn what you can about the company culture, the company’s vision and values, and any recent accomplishments outlined on the company website. This knowledge will help you better understand whether you align with the business’s values, goals, and vision.

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