Savvy hiring managers have shifted their thinking about how to vet prospective candidates: they’ve realized that they have better long-term success when they focus on cultural fit moreso than work history and experience. While many job skills can be taught through on-the-job training, there’s almost nothing a manager or HR person can do to change an employee’s personality, work preferences, and sources of motivation.
Finding a person who is the right match for your company’s culture can be tricky. Check out six cultural interview questions every recruiter should ask to determine whether a job candidate is a fit for your organization.
- Describe your ideal work environment and team interactions
Begin by listening to how candidates express their work preferences. Listen carefully for jargon and stilted answers; pre-interview research of your organization may be influencing their answers.
- Explain how you interact with colleagues outside of your team, at higher or lower-level positions, or on multi-departmental teams.
When hiring for an open position in a highly collaborative environment, you’ll want to be sure that candidates are comfortable working with nearly any other employee in the organization.
- Tell me what your earliest work or volunteer opportunities taught you about career goals and values.
While personalities may be pretty set, how employees approach situations can change over time based upon individual experiences. Knowing what a person has taken away from prior experiences that continues to be impactful as an employee can tell you a lot about how he or she will mesh with your own organization.
- What are three things you expect from your work environment in order to be successful in your role?
With this question, you will be trying to gauge several things: level of supervision and collaboration, amount of concrete versus discrete support needs, and how future-thinking tasks like continuing education or development may impact how your candidate expects to work toward success.
- What was your best work environment experience? (For entry-level candidates, invite responses related to volunteer experience or school/club experience.)
By describing past environments in which he or she has been successful, a candidate can reveal what circumstances they need to thrive: anything from team structure, to preferred manager style, to office environment. This will give you clear insight into whether the attributes of your organization align with the candidate’s needs.
- What was your worst work environment experience and how would you have changed it to be a better experience?
This question may lead to interesting responses. Watch for the difference between complaining about an experience versus lining out problems and suggesting how they may be addressed. This will show you if a potential employee may be willing to work to address any problem areas your company has already identified.
Asking candidates skill-based and behavior-based questions are a great way to understand their capabilities and experience, but cultural interview questions allow you to determine how well an individual will fit in at your organization based on their intrinsic strengths, personality, and preferences. Be sure to integrate these culture questions in each of your interviews if you want to increase the chance of long-term employee engagement and success.