Tailoring Your Interview for Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is extremely important in hiring

Sure, a candidate’s work experience is very important. A candidate’s accomplishments, successes, failures (from which they learned) and skills are very important.

Luckily, you can find all of these details on a resume and, to an certain extent, in a typical interview process.

However, everything that is important on paper means nothing if your candidate does not fit into your office culture. When a company fails to hire for company culture along with all other prerequisites, they face a high risk of losing their employee within the first year.

Employee turnover due to poor cultural fit can cost 50-60% of the person’s annual salary, so it is time to figure out your culture!

What is office culture?

Culture does not necessarily equal team outings, catered lunches or weekly happy hours. Every office has their own culture, even if the culture consists solely of fluorescent lights, shined shoes, and grey cubicles!

Consider these five starter questions to figure out your office culture:

  • What do my employees wear to work every day? Jeans? Suits?
  • Do my employees have their own offices/cubicles or do we have an open floor plan?
  • Does my company hold outings for employees to bond together?
  • Do my employees bond after hours?
  • What is communication like in the office? Are all aspects of the company transparent to my employees?

The sooner you can classify your company as a tight-knit group of dungaree-wearing Tuesday night bowlers, the sooner you can find that candidate that fits right in!

Maybe your team consists more of pressed suit, go-home-at-five-on-the-dot, hard-working and keep-to-themselves types. That is fine, too!

Are you beginning to see why it’s important to make sure your next hire fits in?

Finding the right cultural fit during the interview process

Once you have determined what your company culture looks like, it is time to modify your interview process in order to fit in appropriate questions.

Dive into more than the candidate’s skill set and business-related achievements. Find out how the candidate works with others, what their ideal working environment is and how they contributed to the community in their last position. Start out with drafting some culture-specific interview questions.

Here are some basic questions you can ask to determine the cultural fit of your next candidate:

  • What is it about [company] that attracted you?
  • Do you thrive working alone or do you prefer working cooperatively with a team?
  • What does an ideal day at work look like to you?
  • Describe a challenging time in which you were able to work with others to come out on top.

Keep in mind that there are questions that are illegal to ask in an interview. Make sure to steer clear of mentioning race, creed, citizenship and more touchy subjects.

Evaluating culture fit during a reference call

After interviewing the employee, go to the references for further questions. A reference, whether it be a former boss, a colleague or a mentor, can provide valuable information about the applicant’s hobbies and passions.

Here are some basic questions you could ask a reference to get started:

  • What would you say is the candidate’s greatest strength and weakness?
  • When working with a team, what role does the candidate typically take?
  • Describe a time when the candidate came up against a specific problem and how she overcame it.
  • What was the last environment the candidate worked in like and how did she perform in it?

Be sure to save a portion of your conversation with a reference in order to ask cultural fit questions. Find out how the candidate works with others, how they contributed in other situations and what strengths and weaknesses they can build upon in the future.

Final thoughts

Remember, cultural fit is extremely important in the hiring process, so make it a priority when planning your next interview. If you cast it off to the side, you will likely find yourself hiring for the same position before the year is out!

Are there any other areas in which you would infuse cultural fit questions or opportunities to learn more?

Please let us know!



Author: Caileen Kehayas

Caileen is a content marketer for Proven. When she is not blogging or tweeting, she likes to curl up with a good book or go for a run in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

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