3 Questions to Ask When Assessing Culture Fit

Posted by Celine Castleman

Culture has become a major HR buzzword in recent years, and for good reason. According to new research, it can make or break your company’s dynamic — and ultimately your bottom line. In fact, a recent study shows that 46% of newly-hired employees fail at their jobs within the first 18 months. Even more startling is the fact that 89% of those employees have the necessary skill sets to succeed, but fail to thrive because they’re not in tune with the culture of the companies they’re working for. And because employee turnover is so expensive, that can translate into huge added costs for companies. One recent report puts that figure as high as 50-60% of departing employees’ salaries

So what’s the best way to ensure a good culture fit when it comes to new hires? Having a well-defined company culture is a great start. From there, it’s about knowing how to assess a candidate’s personality and understand how their values align with your company’s mission. A few key questions can help you get to know your candidates better and figure out whether they’re a good fit.

Why do you want to work here?

It might seem like a simple question, but the answer can tell you a lot about a candidate’s background and what they’re looking for in their next role. It can also give you a clear understanding of what they value in a company, which can help you assess whether they’ll fit in well with the rest of the team.

  • What to look for: In short, a candidate who’s done their research. Knowing your company’s background and mission are strong indicators that the potential hire has spent time getting to know your work and that they’re approaching the interview in a thoughtful way. Beyond that, their response can help you get a sense of their personality and how likely they are to get along with other team members. If you only ask one culture fit question during the interview process, this is the one to ask.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Another important question, this is a chance for candidates to be honest about their strengths and weaknesses while being authentic about who they are. It can also give you a sense of their work history and any challenges they’ve faced in prior roles.

  • What to look for: Self-awareness and honesty are the things to look for with this question, especially when it comes to a candidate’s weaknesses. Being able to present a clear picture of themselves without shying away from areas they’re working on improving is a good sign that the candidate has a balanced view of themselves and that they’re open to feedback and coaching. 

What motivates you?

A great way to get an overall sense of a candidate’s passion and personality, this question can be a huge help in determining what drives candidates to succeed in both their personal and professional lives. What’s more, it can offer insights into their background and why they’ve chosen their specific career path.

  • What to look for: Passion is a key indicator of success and knowing what candidates feel strongly about can give you a better understanding of how they approach their work. Whether it’s helping others, meeting sales targets or learning more about a certain topic, having a sense of what motivates a candidate is the best way to help them succeed at your company.

Although hiring has traditionally focused on skill assessment, experts are increasingly realizing that a holistic recruitment strategy is a better way to go. And culture fit is a key component of that equation. From increased revenue to lower turnover — and a great office vibe — a strong culture can make a big difference for years to come. By making culture a priority at your company, you’ll be able to ensure that your new hires are the best fit for your team.

Want to improve your recruitment process? Learn how to break up with your candidates (without closing the door) and how to create an employee referral program.

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