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Best Culture Fit Questions to Ask a Candidate

Everyone in HR talks about the importance of candidate culture fit, but how do we actually pull it off?  We’ve all had bright-eyed charmers who waltz in and blow the team away with their expertise and great attitude, but end up leaving the organisation due to team incongruences, issues with their responsibilities, or for some other culture-related reason.

As part of the hiring team, it is your responsibility to assess your cultural expectations, as well as the candidates, to ensure a proper fit for both.  Every company is different and as an insider, you need to be acutely in tune with the workings of your organisation, and understand what makes your business different, unique, and successful.

To help you screen for culture fit, here are our top 7 questions to ask during an interview.

1. If you started your own company, what would the company culture look like?

Formal? Informal? Rigid? Flexible? Ask for specific examples of what would be acceptable and what wouldn’t be.  In reality, this is a simple match question; does the candidate’s response resemble what’s true at your organisation?

2. What does your perfect work day look like?

Leave this question open without a lot of instruction, and take note of the response.  The candidate is likely to use a few key words that will either resonate or clash with your working environment or the outlined role responsibilities.  Everyone has a preference of how they work, and you want to be sure that their method will work in your organisation, and if you’re able to provide that person with such a work space so they can be as productive as possible.

3. What kind of environment do you work best in?

This can include physical office features (lots of space, high ceilings, office plants, etc.), team dynamics (such as whether that person would prefer to be left alone to work or is more productive on a team), or personal ideal working conditions (music or silence).

4. What does ‘leadership’ mean to you?

Everyone defines leadership differently, but this question can give you insight on how the candidate chooses to lead others, and their style of action they utilise to achieve a goal.  Be sure to ask for examples of when they demonstrated leadership in their personal and professional lives, to support their statements.

5. Who inspires you, and why?

Understanding a candidate’s role model and possibly who they aspire to be can give you an idea of their values, which you can compare to the company’s.

6. What motivates you to come to work every morning?

Motivation drivers are always good to pin down, but a desire for further learning and a curious mind are great indications of passion and energy.  You want people who find meaning in their work and want to be there, rather than simply showing up for the money.  Ask: is the candidate motivated in a way that aligns to your business?

7. How do you delegate tasks?

How does this person communicate?  Are they a team player?  Leaders are also a part of the team, and the response to this question can help you determine whether the candidate would integrate well with the people already present.

When walking into an interview, candidates know to put up their best front, so it’s up to you to peel back the layers to get as honest of an answer as possible.  Honesty is best matched with honesty, so be sure to convey that there are no wrong answers, and you recognise the importance of culture fit and simply want to create the best possible scenario for both the company and the candidate.

Good luck!


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