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The Best Approach to Understanding Cultural Fit in Job Interviews

Women with blonde hair being interviewed by two people across a desk Your People Partners Women with blonde hair being interviewed by two people across a desk
Women with blonde hair being interviewed by two people across a desk Your People Partners Women with blonde hair being interviewed by two people across a desk

Wondering what job interview questions to ask for cultural fit?

We’ve got you covered.

When it comes to the hiring process, employers want to ensure that their new employees will fit with the company culture.

At Your People Partners, we are great believers that finding a candidate based on ‘cultural add’ over their skillset makes a huge, positive difference in growing your team and helping your business thrive.

What does cultural fit mean?

Cultural fit (also known as culture fit) is the concept of hiring new employees based on their core values and behaviours. Instead of looking at experience and skillset alone, the interviewer dives deeper into assessing how well the candidate will fit into the company’s culture. 

Ultimately, a candidate could have a great deal to offer the company based on their CV. Keywords on a CV are often the first stage of the hiring process. Is there enough ‘evidence’ based on the CV?

However, we need to dig a little deeper to uncover whether your company’s values and culture naturally align with a potential new employee. Will the candidate be able to represent the company in the best way and help the business grow? And will they want to be a part of your mission and vision?

In determining the right people, the good-to-great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience.

Jim Collins, Good to Great

How to understand cultural fit in job interviews?

You can probably guess by now that a cultural fit interview is simply an interview that focuses on gaining insight into a candidate’s personality, behaviours and values.

Although questions are based on cultural fit, the overall setup can be similar to a traditional interview where you can ask several questions over a coffee or as more of a formal interview. The decision on what type of interview will be a reflection of your company culture!

A less formal setup for these types of questions – and interviews in general – may be more beneficial if that is aligned with your culture. The more free-flowing and conversational a job interview feels the more at ease the candidate will feel when answering questions. This type of approach may give you a more genuine idea of the candidate and their fit within the company culture.

How to prepare for a cultural fit interview?

If hiring based on cultural fit is a new concept to you and your company, it’s important to keep these in mind when preparing for an interview.

It’s key to remember that finding the right candidate for your team isn’t just based on skills. Skills can be gained through training and job experience, but when it comes to values… not so much.

Hiring when trying to find the right cultural fit can seem overwhelming and more complex compared to other hiring processes; however, it will be a massive benefit for your company in the long run.

So, stick to it!

10 Cultural Fit Interview Questions

Questions like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “Tell me about your last job.” won’t tell you whether an applicant has the right cultural fit for your business.

Those job interview questions just don’t cut it!

So, if you want to know what ten job interview questions you should be asking about cultural fit, here are our suggestions based on recommendations from the team here at Your People Partners.

  1. What appeals to you most about this role?
  2. Can you describe what gets you excited about coming to work/project that has excited you the most in your career?
  3. Where/when/how do you do your best work?
  4. What motivates you to do your best work?
  5. Who inspires you and why?
  6. What does a thriving company culture look like to you?
  7. How would you describe your optimal work-life balance?
  8. What advice would you give to someone starting a similar career path?
  9. What has been the most valuable lesson of your professional career to date?
  10. In your view, what role does humour (or kindness or empathy) play at work?

How to assess Cultural Fit in an Interview

Whilst the questions mentioned above can all be great indicators to help you understand how well the candidate will fit in within your company, there are a few tips to be aware of when trying to assess cultural fit during an interview.

Identify and embrace your company culture

It goes without saying that you should know exactly what your company stands for, what its values are, and how it is reflected throughout the business. Keep this in mind throughout the interview as you listen to the candidate’s response to your questions. Does the candidate’s answer feel aligned with your company culture? Do their values match up?

Consider the candidate’s questions also

You’re probably thinking, ‘Of course, I’m considering the candidate, I’m already interviewing them,’ but let’s dive a little deeper.

Throughout the hiring process, you’ll develop an idea as to whether they will add to your team, and whether or not you want to make a job offer. Your hiring process should also include plenty of opportunities for them to ask and explore more about your company culture. This allows the candidate to consider whether they see themselves as an excellent cultural fit for the company.

Be aware of your biases

You know the company inside and out, and you already have a good idea of your ideal candidate. Whilst this knowledge can be a blessing, it can sometimes lead to clouded judgement.

If you’re hiring to replace your favourite employee, you will have a bias, good or bad. Perhaps your bias is you’ll never find anyone that measures up.

Try to keep bias at bay when taking on board the candidate’s answers and assess with benchmarks instead of relying wholly on your feelings and intuition.

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of a cultural fit interview and some questions to help you find a great ‘cultural add’ to your growing company, are you ready to start finding candidates?

You deserve employees who believe in your mission and help your business thrive!

Related reading:

Still need help?

If you would like more advice, feel free to contact the team at Your People Partners. We love to help!

Updated: Tues Dec 6th 2022
Useful for Business Owners, Hiring Managers and anyone leading Job Interviews
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