Cultural Fit Interview Questions to Find the Right Candidate

Smiling black female hiring manager with her laptop listening to female applicant in blue shirt during an interview inside an office

If there is one thing that hiring managers learn over time, it is that cultural fit matters. As hard as you work to find someone with just the right credentials, a poor cultural fit can lead to turnover just as quick as an unskilled hire. Of course, 'cultural fit' doesn't have anything to do with region or even lifestyle. It's about how well a new employee fits into the existing team, workflow, and company values.

You can discover a good cultural fit without ever delving into protected worker classifications. All you need is the right set of cultural fit interview questions which can be smoothly integrated into your usual interview flow. Let's dive into how to best identify candidates who will thrive in your working environment and become a natural part of your team.

Know Thyself: Identifing Your Company's Culture and Cultural Fit

The first step to preparing the right cultural fit interview questions is to know your own company culture. Most employers haven't thought closely about what cultural fit truly means, and don't until it's time to quantify cultural fit among new hire candidates. What defines your company culture, team dynamic, and shared work environment? Here are a few scales that can help you quickly identify where your team stands in the grand scheme cultural fit.

  • Meticulous
  • Formal
  • Laid Back
  • Silly
  • Fast-Paced
  • Commission
  • Absolutely Regular
  • Flexible and Free
  • Inernational Anytime
  • Independence
  • Collaboration
  • Team Efforts
  • Mind Meld
Workplace Environment
  • Formal Offices
  • Freeform Spaces
  • Hot Desking Action
  • Remote-Only
  • All the Time
  • Routine but Well-Spaced
  • For Special Occasions
  • Almost Never, but Sometimes
  • Never

Useful Read: Types of Job Interviews and Strategies for HR Professionals

Interview Questions to Determine Cultural Fit

When interviewing a new candidate, the way they answer questions can tell you a lot about their style of work, depth of skill, and of course, their cultural fit. Many of the most standard interview questions already focus on cultural fit, even if interviewers are not thinking of them in this light. Cultural fit interview questions often focus on how the candidate feels, how they interact, and examples of previous experiences.

Gauging Candidate Attitudes

male and female African-American executives interviewing a male black applicant using cultural fit interview questions while sitting inside an office

Attitude-related interview questions focus on determining a candidate's general approach to work in terms of style, feelings, demeanor, and seriousness. Some teams are casual or silly, some are serious and careful. A candidate's answers to these quetions can tell you where they fall on this spectrum.

1. "What drives your day-to-day work?"
The way a candidate outlines their routine can reveal a lot about the attitude they bring to work.

2."How do you approach a large project with incremental deadlines?"
A candidate's project style may reveal their preferences for planning, teamwork, and more.

3."Describe your typical workflow."
This question provides equal measure insights in both expertise and cultural fit.

4. "Tell us about a positive work experience with coworkers or clients."
You will learn what candidates view to be positive about the people and situations they work with, and hear a story of triumph.

5."What do you like about your current or most recent colleagues?"
Candidates will reveal what they find endearing in their coworkers, whether that is skill or personality

6."Where do you see yourself in five years?"
This question seeks to reveal a candidate's ambition and target career path.

Determining Ideal Schedules

Schedule plays a major role in workplace cultural fit because it aligns with the working style and pace of each candidate. Some people thrive on speed and even chaos, while others need a steady routine with careful planning instead of being rushed. Schedule culture also relates to when your team and candidate prefer to do their work during the day.

Early birds, afternoon hustlers, and night owls can work together, but only in the right around-the-clock workflow. These interview questions can help you find out the type of schedule a candidate prefers, thrives in, or would dislike.

1."What does your typical work schedule look like?"Learn the schedule your candidate is used to keeping.

2."If you could set your own schedule, what would it be?"
Ask candidates to reveal their best hours, pace, or working style depending on how they interpret the question.

3."Do you like to finish projects early, right on time, or just in time?"
Get a glimpse of the candidate's sense of pace and planning.

4."Are you comfortable with a fast-paced work environment?"
Most people will say "yes" because they think this is the right answer. But how they say "yes" can reveal a lot.

5."How often do you typically answer emails during the day?"
Determine how rapid candidates feel communication should be during the workday.

Addressing Teamwork Style

Teamwork related cultural fit interview questions will reveal how a candidate prefers to work as part of a team. Some people are independent powerhouses but are not good at asking for help. Others are full-time team players who love being part of a collaborative process. Your workflow and each candidate will fall somewhere on this spectrum for the ideal level of teamwork in your workflow.

  • "Are you more confident working on a team or working on your own?"
    Ask candidates about their preference for independent work vs teamwork.

  • "What do you like most about working with others?"
    How a candidate answers this question will reveal what they value in coworkers and team members.

  • "How did you resolve a disagreement with a coworker in the past?"
    Learn what the candidate views as a disagreement and how they approached finding a solution.

  • "Do you like to work closely with a team on projects?"
    Address how closely a candidate prefers to work with team members and what they consider to be working closely together.

  • "What do you do if your work requires information from someone else?"
    Determine how your candidate a workflow that relies on cooperation from others to move ahead. This will reveal their familiarity and ability to deal with delays and the need for teamwork.

  • "Describe how you would help a team effort/presentation/project."
    Learn what your candidate views as contribution to the team. you are essentially asking them what they bring to the table.

Workplace Environment Preferences

Everyone has work environments in which they thrive and conditions they can't stand. This is a highly personal preference, and you'll want to find candidates to take well to the type of work environment that each role has to offer. Some candidates love remote work, some don't enjoy isolation. Some like the freedom of hot-desking, some need the peace and privacy of a private office space. These interview questions can help to determine a candidate's ideal workplace environment and gauge environments where they could easily adapt.

  • "Do you like having an office or a flexible workspace?"
    Ask about your candidate's ideal workplace environment and learn about any strong preferences for work surroundings.

  • "Are you able to commute X times a week?"
    Ask about the frequency of commuting that you require, or plan to request. some people are capable of commuting and some have a number in mind.

  • "How do you feel about working at home?"
    Determine whether your candidate loves working at home, prefers working in the office, or somewhere in between.

  • "What don't you like about working in the office or at home?"
    Asking a negative preference can reveal more detail than asking for positives.

  • "What makes a workplace enjoyable for you?"
    Determine what your candidate considers to make a comfortable workplace, from chair design to background music to warm sunshine.

Assessing Travel Readiness

If the role involves travel, either a little or a lot, you will also want to take measure of a candidate's readiness to travel. Travel-related cultural fit interview questions can identify people who love to travel, people who plan carefully for flawless trips, and people who avoid travel at all costs. This can help you to find people who will survive or even thrive with the amount of travel needed for each role.

  • "How do you feel about traveling for work?"
    Ask your candidate about their general feelings regarding travel. Many people have strong feelings for or against travel and will let you know.

  • "Are you comfortable traveling X times a year?"
    Determine if your candidate is able or willing to travel with the frequency you need. Some don't like travel, some can't leave home often, and some wil enthusiastically agree.

  • "What do you like or dislike most about travel?"
    Ask for likes and dislikes to get a detailed look at how your candidate views travel, as well as their familiarity with travel experiences.

  • "How would you handle a typical travel situation?"
    Candidates are asked to reveal their tendency to plan and prepare, stress and arrive early, or hop on a plane without stress.
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Topic: Culture / Culture Fit