Thought Leadership

How to Interview for Culture Fit


3 easy steps to culture fit interviews that are insightful, scalable, and lead to great hires.

Alignment (or misalignment) of personal and organizational values directly effects employee engagement, which in turn effects performance and retention. Strong alignment strengthens overall company culture, but if you bring in people who aren’t aligned, you’ll quickly find yourself at the tipping point of an organization-wide problem. That why assessing culture fit during the hiring and interviewing process is so important. Here are 3 steps to interviewing for culture fit:

1. Frame questions the right way.

First, you want to make sure that interviewers are asking questions in the right way so they get the most insightful responses from candidates. Use behavioral interview questions that ask about specific experiences, rather than hypothetical questions, which put candidates in an imagined future scenario where anything is possible. Here’s an example: Hypothetical Q: “Tell me how you would handle an angry customer.” Behavioral Q: “Tell me about a time when you had to address an angry customer. What was the problem? What did you do to resolve it? What as the outcome? How would you assess your role in diffusing the situation?”

2. Ask the right questions.

Second, you want to make sure that interview questions align with your company’s core values, as well as the values of the team. If customer orientation is a core value across the company, then a question like the example above is something you should ask in every interview. Or maybe customer orientation is important in sales and customer service, but not so much in IT, where results orientation is more important. Be flexible and adjust interview questions accordingly. If you don’t know what your company and team values are – or you know what you want them to be, but you’re not sure if those values are actually represented – a culture assessment is a great place to start. This will tell you how your employees are experiencing culture, and how well their values align with what’s written on the wall. Then, you can decide whether you want to shift or strengthen your existing CultureDNA™, using cultural interview questions to support your strategy.

3. Provide interview guides.

Finally, if interviewing for culture fit is important in your company, it should be done consistently. That means you need a structured and scalable interview process. This will help inexperienced and/or busy hiring managers stay on topic, know what questions to ask, and get the most out of limited interview time. Start with an interview guide using pre-vetted or custom interview questions. You can also build pre-recorded video interviews using video interview technology. No matter what type of interview guide you choose, you’ll benefit from increased team collaboration and greater consistency across interviews.

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