Best Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates – Assessing Cultural Fit

This is part 10 of a 12-part series.

Creating a successful and productive team starts with finding great employees who fit your organizational culture. And while you may receive hundreds of job applications and interested parties, narrowing down the talent pool to hire the right candidate for the job goes beyond what hiring managers can surmise by reading cover letters and applicants’ resumes, especially when studies show 85% of applicants lie on their resumes. This is where the art of the interview comes into play.

According to a study, although a typical interview averages 40 minutes, 33% of hiring managers decide whether they want to hire a job candidate within the first 90 seconds of an interview. To ensure you’re completely thorough and make the right decision, it’s important to ask the right questions to fully understand and evaluate a candidate. During this 12-part series, we will explore the best interview questions to ask job candidates and give a few “pro tips” along the way.

Part 10 – Assessing Cultural Fit

Question: What does your ideal organization look like?

Follow ups: What values do you appreciate in a company? What company culture traits are most important to you?

In an earlier installment of the “Best Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates” series, we introduced the important issue of uncovering a candidate’s attraction to the job, and possibly more importantly, the company. The purpose was to uncover a candidate’s knowledge of the company, as well as if they would be a highly motivated and engaged worker. For this question, we dig deeper into not only what type of job they want, but also to see what type of company they wish to work for.

By asking questions that allow the candidate to outline what their ideal organization looks like, the interviewer is able to determine if the candidate would fit in with their company’s culture. Defined, company culture is the shared values and beliefs between employees and leadership. So while there are surface-level aspects of a culture (i.e. fun, exciting, professional, etc.), there are deeper values that help create an organization’s foundation.

From open and clear communication to autonomy and delegation, these values intersect with the daily grind and affect overall work enjoyment, as well as the ability for employees to grow and achieve success in their roles. If a potential employee expects a culture that is different from your own, then there is a chance that over time the candidate would become less productive and engaged, and they may look elsewhere for a company with a better cultural fit.

Ask follow-up questions to dig deeper into what cultural characteristics the candidate values. If one or two stand out, ask why those are important to them.

While asking the interviewee to define what an ideal workplace and team look like, dig deeper to have them expound on their “dream company.” There is a good chance that it doesn’t look like your company. Don’t be deterred by this, instead determine where the similarities lie. And more importantly, understand that where your company is currently may not be where you want it to stay. If the candidate wants to work for a company that is similar to the culture you want to cultivate, that person may help you achieve that.

What is your favorite question to ask a job candidate? How do you decide who the right candidate is? Let us know in the comments section below!

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One Response to Best Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates – Assessing Cultural Fit

  1. Richard McKinnon November 1, 2022 at 6:35 am #

    We like to ask questions to the candidate pertaining to where they are in their life and how they preceive working for us will help them achieve their goals.

    It is much more important for the current generation to find work life balance making it important to understand what that means to the candidate and determine if it fits with the organizational culture and objectives.

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