June 21, 2021

How to Interview for Cultural Fit


We’ve all been there. You hire a candidate who was great during the interview process. They were funny, smart, focused and had experience in the field. Their references checked-out. Then, they show up for work and they are:

  • Distracted by their phones and social media
  • More interested in focusing on their personal life than work
  • Always asking questions, but just do not understand the job
  • Can’t seem to get in the groove

They talk about all of the work they’re getting done, but they’re just not getting any actual work done. Maybe they’re focused on how soon they can take time-off as soon as they arrive. Worse, they just don’t get along with people. They don’t recognize social cues or how to manage-up. They do not fit in. They’re toxic and you dread seeing them. You missed the red flags… and you made a mistake.

Do any of these scenarios ring true to you?

Interviewing for Cultural Fit Helps You Find the Right Hire to Fit Your Expectations

When you have a team member who doesn’t fit in with your corporate culture, not only does their success waiver, but it affects the success of their team members and ultimately, the organization itself.

Now, contrast the above hires with one who is asking questions because they are curious and looking to learn. They’re focused on their work and fitting in. They take time to learn the office dynamics and they meet their deadlines. They come in every day, on time, they roll-up their sleeves, put their head down, and they get things done. You’re happy to see them…

You’ve made these hires as well, right?

Why did they work?

Do you even know?

A lot of it has to do with cultural, or culture fit, and we can help you explore why this makes a difference, as well as determine whether the candidate you’re interviewing fits your organization’s culture by looking at the following areas:

Differentiating between skill set and cultural fit

Spending the time to learn about candidates… and whether they fit

Adding steps outside of the interview that focus on cultural fit

Digging into cultural fit during the reference check process

Understanding the relationship between diversity and cultural fit

Ready? Let’s begin…

Differentiating Between Skill Set & Cultural Fit

If you have a great candidate who  is lacking experience or skills, you can teach them those skills. A poor cultural fit eliminates the good that comes with skills and experience (see “Is it better to hire for Cultural Fit Over Experience?”) A key question to consider then when assessing a candidate’s cultural fit is whether the candidate’s values align with the company’s? Effectively answering this question however, calls for spending time with the candidate…

You all know what it looks like when you make a bad hire, you just don’t always see it coming… Not when the interview has gone well, the candidate has great experience, and their references check-out. You can prevent making such hires however, when you focus on hiring for cultural fit. How do you do this? In the following ways:

You differentiate between skill set and fit.

You engage a range of staff from across the organization in the interview process… and you make sure they not only come from different teams and departments, but have different backgrounds.

You get to know the candidate outside of the interview process… and when needed you dig further into their reference checks.

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