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6 Ways To Tell If Your Interviewee Is A Good Cultural Fit

Hiring for “culture-fit” can feel vague and difficult to determine, these questions can help you narrow it down.

6 Ways To Tell If Your Interviewee Is A Good Cultural Fit
[Photo: Flickr user Ethan]

A great employee is an integral part of a company’s culture, so in the hiring process, an interviewee’s ability to add to company culture is just as important as their initial qualifications.

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But it can be a challenge to work through the process of determining whether or not someone is a good cultural fit, and this issue has plagued interviewers for years and years. After all, it’s a big issue to tackle–the choices made by a manager can pay off time and time again, or they can cause unnecessary stress. Keep these tips in mind when interviewing people and finding the right cultural fit won’t be too difficult.

1. How Do They Interact With Other Team Members?

Having an interviewee speak with multiple people is important to determining their cultural fit within a company. There are a large number of factors that make a culture unique, and getting along with one person does not necessarily mean that they’ll be a good cultural fit. Instead, introduce them to various team members to see how they handle themselves within a given cultural environment. It’s worth noting that it can take a bit of time to adjust, so there’s no need to immediately turn them down if they take a second to warm up.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

We’ve all heard stories about odd interview questions that seem to have nothing to do with the job. The funny thing about these questions is that the answer is generally unimportant–the interviewer doesn’t care if their interviewee knows the exact number of seconds it takes to travel from Chicago to Indianapolis on a tricycle. What matters is how they respond to the question. It’ll likely catch them off guard, but can they give an interesting answer? If a company prides itself on their creative culture, these types of questions can help see if the candidate would fit in.

3. Compare Them To Other Employees Who Shared Similar Skills/Traits

Each employee deserves a chance to showcase their unique personality as they grow within a company, but that’s a process that takes a fair bit of time. Given the time constraints of an interview, instead ask them about their values and professional ideals. When they discuss the professional beliefs that make them tick, make a mental note of current or past employees who share similar values–how did they do? Did they fit nicely, or were they ultimately problematic? It takes time to know exactly how one will fit within company culture, but it’s not a bad idea to become familiar early on.

4. Do They Show Any Understanding Of Your Company Culture?

Background research is a key aspect of preparing for an interview–without it, answers can’t be tailored to fit company needs. Going a step further and becoming familiar with their culture, though, is a huge plus. It shows additional initiative, something that never hurts, and beyond that, it tells interviewers that they can do their job well and that they care about company culture. If they prove that it’s more than just a job, there’s a fair chance that they’ll make a promising addition to company culture.

5. Are They Consistent With Culture Requirements?

Consistency is key, and that holds true for culture as well as business operations. A sad truth of interviewing is that a person on paper might not be quite the same as the person who shows up for the interview. Ensuring consistency with values and professional ideals reduces the chances of a decision backfiring and negatively affecting company culture. A consistent candidate raises fewer red flags and, when given a fair chance, can bring great things to the table in terms of company culture.

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6. Know Your Own Culture

How can an interviewer make an informed choice if they’re not in tune with the culture themselves? Knowing the ins and outs is important for a number of reasons, interviews included. When judging a candidate’s cultural fit, any interviewer worth their salt is already intimately familiar with the inner workings of the company, and that includes its culture. Knowing exactly where everyone stands and how they contribute to everything overall makes picking the right candidate drastically easier and less risky.

About the author

Barry S. Saltzman is CEO of Saltzman Enterprise Group and Partner at Culture Measures, a business focused on turning the art of culture into a science.

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