Think of the best employees in your company. Chances are they’re not only top performers, they’re also inherently driven by your company mission and embody your company culture in their values and actions. Now, imagine hiring your best employee every time you had a job opening. That’s what hiring for culture fit can accomplish.
"There's been a shift in mindset and companies are placing a higher importance on finding employees whose visions and values are in line with the company's, as opposed to finding employees with a laundry list of accolades."
-Matthew Brosious, CEO of FreightCenter
Some of the most recognizable names in business are behind this mindset shift namely, Mark Zukerberg and Jeff Bezos who consistently attribute their companies’ success and innovation to their cultures.
Smart organizations realize that hiring is about more than just who has the most experience on their resume; it’s about culture fit. Culture fit employees are more productive, more engaged, have a positive impact on team morale, and have significantly lower turnover rates.
Read: The Power of Culture in an Organization
According to SHRM research, turnover due to a poor culture fit can cost an organization 50-60% of the person’s annual salary. Studies also show that employees who are a good culture fit outperform their counterparts two to three times over.
So how do you find the “right” employees? It’s about screening for culture fit in every step of your hiring process. One specific place to focus your efforts is in the interview process.
Interviewing is an imperfect process; having such limited time with each prospective employee makes it challenging to evaluate the important unteachable skills that make someone a good culture fit. Luckily, many members of the Advanced Resources recruiting teams have decades of experience in this area, and offered to share the questions they use to assess a future employee’s culture fit.
These questions are grouped into four traits that are common threads of character and company value alignment. Although there are a lot of great questions here, Advanced Resources recruiting teams recommend asking no more than 2-3 insightful interview questions from each section, per interview.
Traits of accountability include motivation, achievement, responsibility, self-assertion, and self-assessment.
Think of the person who takes complete ownership of their work and is first to take initiative when challenges or opportunities arise. They’re autonomous doers but also idea champions and no matter what, they go above the call of duty to get the job done.
When screening for accountability, the goal is to learn what kind of worker the candidate will be if they join your organization.
- What projects have you started on your own recently? What prompted you to get started?
- Describe how your position contributed to your organization’s/team’s goals. Have the roles you’ve held in the past required little attention, moderate attention, or a great deal of attention to detail? Give us an example of a situation that illustrates this requirement.
- Give me an example of when you had to go above and beyond in order to get the job done.
- How would you define “success” for someone in your chosen career?
- When you’ve been made aware of, or discovered a problem in your work performance, what was your course of action? Can you give an example?
- Tell us about a time when you influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership role.
- What was the most useful criticism you’ve ever received?
- Give me an example of when you had to produce results without sufficient guidelines?
- What were your annual goals at your most recent employer? How did you develop these goals?
Traits of integrity include moral, trustworthy, honest, good-willed, and ethical.
Think of the employee who models and reinforces ethical behavior in themselves and others. When weighing two options, they undoubtedly choose to take the high-road. They have high moral standards and would often be described as an “upstanding” person.
When screening for integrity, you’re looking for insight on personal values and how those values influence decisions. If there’s one quality that will show true colors of a person, it’s integrity.
- What was the most difficult decision you had to make in the last 6 months? What made it difficult?
- Have you ever had a situation where you had a number of alternatives to choose from? How did you go about choosing one?
- Tell us about a specific time when you had to handle a tough problem which challenged fairness or ethical issues.
- Tell me about a time when you took responsibility for a mistake before anyone knew you had made a mistake.
It may seem trite to screen for likability but likable people are who we prefer to work with, sit next to, and solve problems with every day. What you’ll screen for are things like problem resolution, respect, communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills.
In their answers, look for awareness of others and clear indications of high emotional intelligence.
You’ll want to ask some of the following questions but when in doubt you should simply ask yourself whether or not you enjoyed the person’s presence.
- Give an example of a time in which you felt you were able to build motivation in your coworkers or subordinates at work.
- How often do you rely on information you have gathered from others when talking to them?
- Tell us about a problem you solved in a unique or unusual way. What was the outcome? Were you satisfied with it?
- Describe the most challenging negotiation in which you were involved. What did you do? What were the results for you and the other party?
- Tell me about the last time you gave positive feedback to someone.
- Give an example of how you handle the need for constructive criticism with a subordinate or peer.
- Describe a situation where you had a conflict with another individual, and how you dealt with it. What was the outcome? How do you feel about it?
- Some people are best as a part of a group – others prefer the role of an individual contributor. How would you describe yourself? Give an example of a situation where you felt you were most effective.
- What was the best way you delegated a task?
Traits that indicate adaptability are a combination of flexibility, grit, creative or design thinking, innovation, problem solving skills, resource management, planning and organization.
Think about the person who always seems to “find a way” of getting things done. Who is on a relentless pursuit of excellence, who’s first to say “yes” to a new challenge, and whose grit and resourcefulness are unmatched? Those are the qualities you’re interviewing for.
Change is constant, so adaptability is often a make-or-break quality of a culture fit employee.
- Tell us about a situation where you had to adjust to changes over which you had no control.
- Tell us about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. What was your thought process? What was your reasoning behind your decision?
- Some people consider themselves to be “big picture people” and others are “detail oriented”. Which are you? Give an example of a time when you displayed this.
- How have you adjusted your style when it was not meeting the objectives and/or people were not responding correctly?
- Have you ever met resistance when implementing a new idea or policy ? How did you deal with it?
- Have you ever been overloaded with work? How do you keep track of work so that it gets done on time?
- How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?
- Tell us about a time when you did something completely different from the plan and/or assignment.
- Tell us about a time when you anticipated the future and made changes to current responsibilities/operations to meet future needs?
- How did you react when faced with constant time pressure? Give an example.
Culture fit is the glue that holds your organization together. That’s why it’s a key trait to look for when you’re interviewing talent for your organization. You want people who will reflect and adapt to the core values, attitudes, and behaviors of your organization, and who will grow into leaders as the company grows. These job interview questions will help you be successful in your hiring process and find culture fit employees to add to the ranks of the best employees in your company.
Looking for more great resources on how to hire culture fit employees? View: Hire Better - A Guide to Interviewing for Culture Fit