Kirsty Craig Associates - cultural fit interview questions

Top 10 cultural fit interview questions

Company culture is like the personality of a business. And every business and organisation has its own culture — a reflection of its values and priorities, the things that make that organisation tick. 

‘Cultural fit’ is all about how well an employee or candidate gels with the overall culture. Do their individual values align with those of the organisation? Are there any ethical tensions, or incongruous expectations? Do they have qualities that would complement the culture of your business?

Various studies have shown that ensuring a cultural fit between employee and organisation can increase motivation, retention and even productivity.

When it comes to assessing a candidate’s cultural fit, it’s less about a person’s likeability and more about choosing people who will thrive in your environment and help it to thrive. 

Here are our top 10 cultural fit questions for job interviews, and why you should be asking them.

“Describe the work environment in which you’d be most productive and happy.”

A great starting point to assess whether somebody would be a good fit. Try to discern the underlying values behind their answers. 

“What would you want to achieve here in your first six months?”

This is not only a great indicator of a prospect’s drive and work ethic, it will also show whether they have grasped the goals of the business, and the role itself, as a whole.

“What would make you leave a job immediately?”

A negative question, but one which can elicit strong and clear signals about cultural fit. What would cause alarm bells? Do any of their answers sound a bit like your organisation?

“How do you like to be managed?”

As well as assessing whether a candidate is likely to thrive within your team, you’re also looking for them to display self-awareness about their preferences in the workplace. 

“Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team? And why?”

The first part of this question is helpful in establishing a person’s fit within your workplace, but it’s the “and why?” that will illuminate more of the motivations behind their answer. Do they exhibit the flexibility to fit well within your culture?

“What would your perfect workday look like?”

This shows what a person values in the workplace, as well as revealing a level of self-awareness and professionalism. Are they able to articulate the conditions that would help them to thrive? Are they proactive, flexible, and good at protecting their time?

“How would your previous manager/colleague describe you in the workplace?”

By asking how their manager would describe them will hopefully show that they are aware of how others perceive them in the workplace, how adaptable they are at being managed and how they exhibit their values and desires at work.

“You’re handed an urgent assignment just as you’re shutting down for the day. What do you do?”

This question opens up a candidate’s approach to a number of things: work/life balance, communication, attitude towards management, emotional intelligence. Remember that it’s not about the right or wrong answer to the fictional assignment, but their flexibility and how they might fit within the culture.

“Outside of work, what are you passionate about?”

You’re not asking this to find out whether a candidate will fit in your baking club or bowling team, but rather to allow them to move beyond their scripted answers and show some of their personality.

As a Google interviewer noted, “it doesn’t really matter what they’re passionate about, as long as they’re passionate about something.”

“Why do you want to work here?”

It’s a classic interview question for a reason. While every applicant should have prepped for this question, their answers can still be telling. Have they correctly gauged your company’s culture, and do they see themselves as a good fit within it? Does their answer describe values and goals that you’d like to have within your business?

And remember, it’s equally important that a prospective employee feels that your company culture is a good fit for them too, so do your best to illustrate it at any opportunity.

We provide HR support throughout your employee’s journey, including one of the most important aspects for any business to get right – the recruitment process.  Contact us to see how we can help you get it right every time

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