When it comes to hiring, culture fit is just as important to screen for as skills fit. A candidate who is capable of doing a job may not perform well in your environment, or may disrupt others from doing their jobs well. To ensure a great hire, determine which values you want to see in your future teammates before you begin interviewing. Then, determine the best culture fit interview questions to properly evaluate each candidate. Here are a few to get you started.
1. Tell me about a time you [exhibited core value]
Behavioral interview questions can give you a glimpse of how the candidate has handled work situations in the past, and whether they exhibited your core values. If your organization values teamwork, ask the candidate to tell you about a time they led a team in accomplishing a goal. You may also want to ask them to tell you about a time they had a conflict with a teammate, and how it was settled. Evaluate the candidate based on how their past behaviors would jive with your current team, and if they’re consistent with how you expect employees to act.
2. What did you enjoy most about each of your past roles, and what did you enjoy least?
This question can be particularly useful in a chronological interview in which you ask the candidate to walk you through their resume. Follow up questions such as this one can help you determine if the candidate would be truly happy and productive on your team. If you have a flat team structure and each employee has a lot of autonomy, there may not be a strong culture fit if the candidate disliked the lack of direction from their previous manager.
3. Why did you leave each role?
Ask the candidate why they left each role if they don’t specifically mention it while answering the previous question. Role transitions can be due to shortcomings in the role they left, opportunity in a role they took, or a combination of both. Understanding these transitions can give you insights into the candidate’s career motivations, and whether those motivations are a good match for your opportunity. A candidate who has left each role for career advancement could be a fit for an organization that values leadership, but a poor fit for an organization that has little room for advancement. You want to see that the candidate’s motivations match your core values, and that your opportunity can satisfy them.
4. What’s your long-term career goal?
Dig deeper into your candidate’s motivations by learning their ultimate career goal. This will help you understand if your values and opportunity are well-aligned with their long-term career plans. If the candidate wants to eventually start their own company, consider whether they are looking for several years of experience before going off on their own, or if they merely need a paycheck to help them get by while they moonlight. If your organization values an entrepreneurial spirit, the former situation could be a great fit, while the latter could mean a short-term or undedicated hire. If it’s not clear, you may also ask the candidate how their next opportunity will help them reach their career goal.
5. Unstructured interview questions
While a structured interview process can ensure each candidate is evaluated on the same criteria, a casual lunch interview can be a great tool for determining culture fit. Rather than preparing interview questions, let the conversation flow to see how well the candidate gets along with everyone. The goal is not to find a new best friend, but rather to determine if your teammates can see themselves working alongside the candidate.
The best hires are those that fit into your organizational culture as much as they fit your skills expectations. Cultural fit interview questions should be crafted to uncover the values that matter most to your organization. Use them to create a dialogue with your candidates so you truly understand what motivates them, and whether they’d be a strong fit for your team.
For more on how to give a great interview, read our ebook, "Top Interview Tips: The Employer’s Essential Handbook."