Get the Best Culture Fit with 4 Powerful Interview Questions

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Let’s be honest. The most critical element in any business is the culture, and the culture fit of employees.

Your business is going to thrive by having amazing employees who buy into your vision. Employees who don't fit, may become toxic, and poisonous employees can spread negativity fast. The starting point to identify a good culture fit for your business is at the interview stage.  The questions you ask during an interview will help determine a good fit for your culture and team.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve hired hundreds of people. Early on in my career, I struggled to hire the right people; I was young and inexperienced.  But yet, after employing the wrong people many times, I learned the hard way. It is not about the candidate's skills and experience. Finding the right fit for your environment is critical.  You can teach skill, but you can’t teach attitude. In my experience hiring B players and A players leads to success. These people have great attitudes; they go the extra mile, and they help you build your business. C players will cause you grief. An employee who is not the right fit for your culture will impact on the amazing people working for you.

Use the following questions during your interview to determine a good cultural fit.

Tell me about the best workday for your and why?

I love this question, as it catches people off guard. The candidate has to think about what motivates them and what inspires them. Their answer will allow you to get a glimpse of their attitude. You can gain some insights into if the candidate aligns with your vision, purpose and mission.

Describe your ideal company culture. What main characteristics it has?

With this question you can identify how aligned your candidate’s answer is with your business's reality.  You will need to be clear on your business's characteristics though and the key to a good culture fit.

Why do you want to work with us, why and what are your expectations?

This question is an oldie but a goody. It jumps right into finding out what your candidate is expecting from you as an employer. You can tell if they have conducted research on your business and if their perception is correct. An example here is if you’re a small business, do they want to help your business grow? Can they work with limited resources, or are they used to large business with ample resources?  The answers can help you identify if their values align with yours. Aligned values are so important to finding the best employee.

When working with people, what is your preferred relationship with them? Do you prefer to have friends at work or do you keep friendships separate from the workplace? 

Social interactions may influence your culture. For example, I once witness an employee impact upon the culture within a business. The employees preferred to keep to herself, which is fine. Yet, the remaining employees formed personable relationships. The team perceived her as cold and unfriendly, which made people feel uncomfortable. It changed the mood and culture of the business, as it was an interactive environment.

Some businesses have more formal social interactions and are less friendly as a result. If the candidate is familiar with a friendly informal environment. Then a formal environment will likely not be a good fit.

Tell me about a time when you failed?

This is my favorite question, as we all have successes and we all fail at some point. This question is not about embarrassing your candidate. It’s about finding out how they perceive failure. Do they see failure as a negative, or as an experience to learn? This comes back to attitude. I’ve failed or made mistakes more times than I can count. Yet, the learnings have been invaluable. You'll identify if the candidate is open to acknowledging their failures. How they perceived their failure is the key.

In business and in life, attitude is everything! Hiring the wrong culture fit will cost your business.


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