Megan Prescott October 05 7 min read

How to Interview for Company Culture

You’re looking for just the right person to blend in with your team, an easy transition, the missing piece to complete the company culture puzzle! Everything from the way your employees interact to their communication styles all shape the culture of your organization. That said, we want to prepare you with the right set of questions to ask your candidates so that you can feel comfortable about choosing your ideal rockstar. 

A key part of interviewing for culture is defining your companies culture. In doing so you might consider: What are your company's values? or What are the behaviors and attitudes that make your employees special? This will allow you to approach the interview with a method to assess a candidates' "fit". If your candidates have a similar outlook and attitude as potential colleagues, then they will most likely blend well into your company culture. 

How Do You Want To Interview for Culture? 

Start by finding out what company culture means to your candidate. This vision should be top of mind, almost as if the candidate is delivering a company culture elevator pitch. You want to feel assured that they understand your culture and what values are important to your business. So when it’s your turn to describe your company’s culture, give a definite answer that leaves the candidate feeling a sense of belonging.

Who Owns the Culture?

An important note to make before we dive in deeper, is that your culture is created by leadership first, the team second. But, your team lives the culture first, and leaders second. Your team will determine the culture themselves if they aren't getting direction from their leaders. It's important that your leaders understand your culture well so there isn't a disconnect from your interview process to when the new hire starts working with you.

Brainstorm Interview Questions for Culture Before the Interview!

As a member of your company, hone in on what is important to you! You are one of the best examples of company culture because of your direct experience, so you know what to look for in potential new hires. Walking the interviewee through situational questions so you can see the person's character will help translate to how they could interact with the team. Making these questions as specific as possible will allow you to see how your candidate visualizes themselves as a part of your company, by drawing on prior knowledge and their own ideas of culture. Some examples of great cultural fit interview questions are: 

  • Describe the work environment or culture in which you are most productive and happy.
  • How would your co-workers describe your work style and contributions in your former job?
  • When you work with a team, describe the role that you are most likely to play on the team.
  • Provide an example of a time when you went out of your way and jumped through hoops to delight a customer.
  • Describe what you believe are the most effective roles that a good manager plays in his or her relationship with reporting staff members.

How You Can Prepare for the Candidate Interview

Just as much as you are interviewing the candidate on culture, they are interviewing you as well. As a member of your company, conveying the goals and ideals of your business is your responsibility, while also painting a picture of the company’s environment and workflow. Ask yourself, “How should I approach this candidate and interview them as a whole, but also add in culture?” “What is the anatomy of the first interview?” which is basically how much time will you devote to all the interview topics. 

A healthy cadence between the first few minutes of ice breakers is ideal, then transitioning to an introduction of the company and positions, then about ten minutes of diving into candidate experience. Allow yourself enough time for Q&A at the end, while also keeping in mind what questions your candidate may ask and how you will be prepared to answer. Candidates pay attention to each interaction and how you respond to collectively understand your culture. To go the extra mile, provide your candidate with all the documents and information they need to interview.

How Can You Tell if the Person Is a Good Culture Fit for Your Company?

There is no price on culture, as it is just as important as any other facet of your business. There needs to be an equal amount of attention devoted to the subject, as you are hiring people for the future of your company! They need to work well together or the company may suffer. Drill in on culture and soft skills, which is more important than hard skills and experience. If the candidates show you they are not that piece that could fit into the team, everything else doesn't matter. They need to communicate well and prove to you that they will maintain that cultural balance. Here are a few ways you can tell if the candidate is a good culture fit: 

  • Engage in casual conversation before and after the interview 
    This allows you to learn more about the candidate's personality and character in a more informal manner. It will allow you to see how they interact with other people, and ultimately with others in the workplace.
  • Listen closely to responses to certain situations
    How a candidate responds to different situations can help you see if they would fit into the same culture as your company by examining their approach. It can also help determine workplace attitudes. 
  • Review candidates work background
    Looking at a candidate's work background may help you gain insight into their work ethic by examining how long they stayed at a company or if they had ever been promoted. This will help you understand their work behaviors and attitudes to see if it aligns with your company culture.
 

Now You Know How To Interview for Culture!

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