Five Interview Questions to Assess Cultural Fit

July 8th, 2019 by Mitchell Sullivan

In last week’s article, we looked at what to consider when hiring for cultural fit, including understanding who you are as an organisation and how to attract the type of individual that would fit best with your company’s working style. The article probed into the benefits, along with the requirements of cultural fit and what a business should do before considering going down that hiring path. 

Understanding cultural fit and its benefits are only the beginning. Knowing how to ask the right questions during the interview and how to analyse the candidate’s answers is how a company can truly find their best match. 

 “Dating and hiring have a lot in common. There’s one important difference, though: companies don’t have time for an extended courtship when they have an important seat to fill.” – Scott Wintrip

Consider online dating and an interview process. Both parties analyse each other’s profiles, education, background, etc. and determine if they’re compatible enough to meet. On the first date, you examine whether you’re a fit with each other’s personality and if there is a certain ‘spark’. A date and interview have virtually the same structure of events, one is just a little more professional. At least you’d hope so. 

For the interview process, once you’ve analysed their resume, the next step is determining if the candidate has that ‘spark’ of compatibility you’re looking for. This is something that can only be found through the interview process, the questions you ask and the answers they give. 

Here we’ll look at some of the questions you can ask during your interview process to discover whether the candidate is actually a cultural fit.

Five interview questions to ask to determine cultural fit:


1. Ask about their previous employment.

You’ll discover a great deal about whether candidates will fit in with your culture by asking questions about their perceptions of cultures they’ve worked with in the past. 

Questions such as:

  • How would you describe the culture at your last job?
  • Did you enjoy working in that type of environment? 
  • If you could change one thing to improve the culture, what would it be?

(Source: Indeed). 

The key here is to ask open-ended questions. Give them the time to answer freely, and discover if you’re work environment is in alignment with their desires. 


2. Ask how they like to be managed

The goal here isn’t to determine the type of management style the individual prefers; you’re looking for self-awareness about their work preferences.

  • Does the individual know what they want from management, and can they express it? 
  • Do they know how to manage themselves? 
  • Do they know what type of direction they respond best to? 

Most managers can accommodate workers with different preferences, but only if the employee can verbalise what they need to prosper.

(Source: Hire by Google). 


3. Ask about their ideal work day.

  • Do they value a structured environment or is autonomy their preference? 
  • What situations are they most productive in?

These type of questions allow the individual to showcase their self-awareness and professional maturity. If your workday looks nothing like what they’ve expressed, then your search for ‘the one’ continues. 


4. Ask about their preferred relationship with their coworkers. 

If you’re workplace is an open-floor plan that promotes collaboration and creativity amongst employees, then an introvert who prefers independence may not be a great fit. 

Likewise, If your company prefers to keep relationships on the professional side, then a sociable person who loves community happy hour may not be the best option.


5. What are they passionate about outside of work? 

  • Why do they wake up in the morning to go to work? 
  • What factors drive them to succeed? 

Work-related questions give the individual the opportunity to prepare in a scripted format. Asking a question about their passion(s), can throw the candidate off guard and lead them into a non-scripted answer. Allowing you to truly discover their personality in an authentic way. Their passions may also indicate their reward preferences and work-life balance requirements. 

Body language and hand gestures of the candidate are also things that shouldn’t be ignored during the interview process. The way they respond to questions/give answers, how they greet people in your office, and their interactions can be an indicator for how well they’ll fit within your team. Know what to look for and pay attention to the signs. 

These are only some of the suggestions in an endless pit of cultural based interview questions. It is up to you as an organisation/recruiter to determine what questions to ask that will allow you to trigger the answers you need to determine a cultural fit.