How to Interview for Cultural Fit

Finding the Right Cultural Fit

Just as in any first date, candidates are typically nervous and in performance mode. It can be difficult to determine if you are a match. There are ways to break the ice and get the candidate to relax so that you can undercover their true self.

This can be achieved by asking questions such as:

  • Share a time when you needed to innovate a work-around or new process.
  • Tell me about your first job and describe two lessons that you learned there that have helped you.
  • What productivity hacks do you use and how did you come up with them?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • These types of questions will show you more about the candidate and their potential cultural fit than standard interview questions. It will also set the tone for the interview as relaxed and conversational.

When looking for cultural fit, talk about the organization’s mission, values, and interests. During this discussion, observe the candidate’s reaction. The candidate who genuinely nods and asks follow up questions is more likely to be a good cultural fit than the one who simply listens with no expression. It is important that your candidates engage the discussion in this way as it shows you that they already envision themselves functioning within the position, are filling in the blanks, and are problem-solving before even being hired.

In addition to sharing the organization’s mission and value statements, it is important to share the nature of the overall working environment. Include how long the typical working day or week will last and if salaries are determined upon that structure. Ask questions about the candidate’s ability to work both independently and within a team environment based upon the work dynamic. A candidate that is an ideal cultural fit will possess the ability to be both flexible and adaptable to the ebbs and flows of current productivity requirements.

Learning about a candidate’s education and skills are important, but you also need to know about them personally. Do not shy away from asking questions about their goals, both professionally and personally. Look for someone who has ambitions outside of work and is looking for more than just a paycheck. Ideally the best cultural fit will be the candidate whose professional and personal ambitions tends to align with the organization’s mission and values.

Interviewing for cultural fit will allow both you and the candidate to determine if the organization and opportunity is a good match. It will also allow for a more relaxed discussion that will make everyone feel as though the time was well spent, regardless of the outcome.

Courtesy of – Ardith Rademacher
Ardith Rademacher & Associates

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