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Company Culture | 4 minute read

5 Questions to ask during an interview to assess cultural fit

February 17, 2016

Organizational culture can determine employee satisfaction, customer experience and turnover rates, and also has an impact on revenue and growth. Therefore, recruiters must put forth effort to find the right culture fit for every position they fill. Values and beliefs bring great minds together, but culture is what keeps them united.The right cultural fit for a company can be assessed by breaking down what is really expected from a candidate, and asking targeted questions to determine if they live by the same values. No matter what company you are recruiting for, make sure that you can clearly identify the corporate culture. Then break that culture down into key traits to screen for during your interview. Here are some personality- and competency-based questions to ask during an interview that can help to assess a candidate's values and corporate culture fit.

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What Would You Do if A Colleague Asked for Help while you are dealing with a deadline?

The candidate's response will give you an insight into how your candidate approaches challenging situations while working under pressure. The way in which the candidate chooses to share information speaks volumes about his or her attention to detail and approach to engagement. Listen to the tone of voice and amount of detail the candidate goes into. There is a difference between briefly sharing past notes or useful tips and taking the time to sit down with the colleague and walking them through it.

Can you describe a time in which you did not deliver the expected results?

Here, you want to test one’s ability to think on the go and be responsible. If the answer is, “I did whatever it needed to be done to fix the issue,” dig deeper for details of this specific situation. What next steps did they take? What would they change in the future? What was the biggest challenge they faced? The more concise someone’s details are, the more responsibility they express.

What would you do if you saw someone misusing their position?

The question above is about the candidate’s interpretation of misuse. For some, this might constitute a blatant lie. For others, it might be abusing free lunches. Listen carefully for specific actions they would take. Would they report it? Would they confront the individual? How would they phrase the confrontation? Or if the candidate excuses the deed, does that mean that they lack integrity? Whatever the answer may be, you'll know if it aligns with your employer's values.

Describe a situation in which your team was in disagreement. How did you reach a solution?

People show their true colors in times of conflict, as they choose whether to conform to a group to retain peace or stick to their own beliefs. If a candidate expresses that they will stand by their opinions, determine if they will attempt to reach a compromise. A company that is in need of strong leaders would search for answers as: “I took ownership of the situation and guided the team.”

Who is your personal hero and why?

The key here is how the candidate's answer will tie in with the field of work that is chosen. How is the hero similar or different to the candidate and why? How is that hero and their qualities relevant to the position? This question can also reveal a candidate’s decision-making style by selecting just one hero. They may choose someone practical and clever, such as a successful business person. They may choose a superhero or someone fictional based on the personal values they represent. Listen for keywords: If a candidate is expressing philanthropy as a value, this may be a great cultural fit for many roles; but if the candidate demonstrates that money is not a motivator for a sales position, then that might not be a perfect position for the person.

It’s important to remember that the questions above do not have a right or wrong answer. They should be used to simply indicate if a candidate and an employer are a cultural match. On the other hand, being suited to a specific company does not make the candidate exclusively employable to the company. The corporate culture that best promotes a candidate’s sense of self, belongingness and satisfaction is where they need to be.

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