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Top Talent Acquisition: Five Tips for Interviewing for a Company Culture Fit


When preparing for an interview, most hiring managers brainstorm questions that will help them determine whether or not a potential candidate is the right functional fit for the open position. Gauging functional fit is important, of course, as it helps managers to ensure that a candidate has the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to succeed in the role. What’s often overlooked in a functional interview, however, is whether or not the candidate is the right culture fit for the organization. A company’s culture is comprised of the core values, attitudes, and personalities that make up the organization. Ensuring that a potential candidate is the right functional and culture fit for the company is key to top talent acquisition. It helps to boost employee morale, increase productivity, and decrease turnover. But how can a hiring manager interview for a culture fit? Consider the following questions that can help assess a candidate’s culture fit:

Who inspires you and why? While this question might initially seem like it would be more fitting for a school essay than a job interview, the candidate’s response can be quite revealing. What type of person does the candidate find inspiring: a charity worker, a self-made millionaire, a teacher, a politician? Consider the behavior patterns of the person the candidate finds inspirational. How do those behaviors align with the values of your company?

What does teamwork mean to you? How a candidate responds to this question will give you a window into his ability to work as part of a team. For company cultures that value teamwork and camaraderie, the response to this question will be of particular interest. It will also help you gauge the candidate’s self-awareness. Does she acknowledge her own limitations and accept help from teammates? Being open about your strengths is easy; being transparent about your weaknesses is challenging.

What motivates you to come to work each day? You’ll likely hear a wide variety of responses to this question, ranging from providing for a family to making a difference in the community. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but the question is still important to help you determine whether or not the candidate is a good culture fit for your company. For example, if your business is sales driven, a money motivated candidate might be a good fit. However, if you work for a non-profit organization, a candidate whose driving force is money is likely not an ideal culture fit.

Describe 3 characteristics of an ideal employer. Before asking this question, consider what characteristics you would use to describe your organization. Then, listen as the candidate describes what his ideal employer would look like. It’s not necessary to have identical responses to this question, of course, but there should be some similarities. Mostly, you want to ensure that the characteristics the candidate uses to describe his ideal employer align with your company’s core values.

What type of personality do you clash with? Nearly everyone has a certain type of personality that they’ll always butt heads with, regardless of the situation. A candidate’s response to this question can give you some insight into her character. It can also let you know in advance whether or not she might struggle to connect with the other people in your company. One word of warning: be wary of the “I get along with everyone” response. While it might sound like an ideal answer, it’s likely a sugar-coated– rather than honest– reply.

We are a boutique staffing firm in the San Diego area, specializing in administrative, financial, and accounting positions. For more information about interviewing for a culture fit or to learn how we can help you retain top talent for your team,contact us today.