When it comes to finding the right fit for a job opening, a candidate’s job experience isn’t the only thing to consider. You also want someone who will contribute to your company culture.

A good “cultural fit” is a good match for your work environment and company values. By asking key company culture interview questions during a job interview, recruiters can provide better assessments as to whether someone will be a good fit for the position.

What Is Company Culture, Anyway?

what is company culture?

SHRM defines organizational culture as “shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding. Organizational culture sets the context for everything an enterprise does.”

In other words, company culture encompasses the core values that influence everything you and your employees do. Culture can vary in terms of leadership style and structure, communication, expectations for employees, and so on. It can even affect daily operating decisions, such as whether employees are allowed to work remotely.

Company culture matters to job seekers as well. It‘s often something they look at during a job search. That’s because a positive, employee-focused company culture means treating all workers with respect and dignity and paying them what they‘re worth — this affects team members on a daily basis. 

Providing a healthy work-life balance and creating a place where people can genuinely enjoy working makes a considerable difference in terms of mental health and how much someone enjoys their job. These are the kinds of things people talk about in their reviews of an employer on Glassdoor and elsewhere, directly influencing how others perceive your employer brand. As such, you should try to make them points of strength.

Why Does Cultural Fit Matter?

why does cultural fit matter?

When hiring a prospective employee, you want to carefully consider whether they are a culture add (as in a diverse individual who strengthens and improves your existing culture) or a good cultural fit (someone who believes in your mission and values and matches your workplace practices). In fact, one survey found that 43% of employers ranked cultural fit as being the most important part of making a hiring decision.

A good cultural fit doesn’t have to look and think exactly like everyone else in your organization. In fact, prioritizing diversity during the hiring process can further strengthen your culture by bringing in new backgrounds and perspectives. This can also foster creativity and innovation.

A good fit for your company culture is anyone who feels committed to your core values and goals and can easily adopt your company’s established methods of work.

Notably, being a good cultural fit has been linked to better job satisfaction and retention. Cultural fit has also been found to be better at predicting commitment to a workplace than factors like skills or experience level.

On the other hand, a bad hire can result in financial losses and even harm an organization’s culture. At worst, a “toxic” employee can poison the office environment and cause other employees to decide to leave for greener pastures. 

Even if a poor cultural fit doesn’t negatively influence other employees, they may not feel motivated to give their best effort, and they may quit after a short while — requiring your company to go through the hiring and interview process all over again.

Company Culture Interview Questions to Ask During an Interview

company culture interview questions during the interview

An interview is the best way to understand whether someone is a good cultural fit — but unconscious bias can often derail this process. This could include negative perceptions about groups that are different from the interviewer, as well as being biased in favor of someone who shares their background (such as race, gender, or even graduating from the same university).

A structured interview with a consistent set of company culture interview questions will help reduce bias. Ensuring that your team asks each candidate the same set of company culture interview questions will make it easier to determine who is actually a good fit, rather than letting unconscious bias keep you from digging deeper.

Determining the best interview questions for culture isn‘t always easy. Your company should consider which ”soft skills” or cultural concerns are of the greatest importance. Common examples of cultural fit interview questions include:

  • What motivates you?
  • How would you describe your dream job?
  • Do you work better alone or as part of a team?
  • Do you prefer receiving specific instructions or taking initiative on your own?
  • How do you handle stress?
  • What did you like or dislike about your previous job?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • How do you prefer to receive feedback?
  • How do you handle workplace conflicts?
  • How would you describe your leadership style? (If hiring for a management position) 

These are just a few of the company culture interview questions you could use. Depending on the amount of time you have, you may be able to ask even more questions or need to trim the above list.

However, these questions will give you a better understanding of a candidate’s personality and work style. The candidate’s answers will help you gauge how they will mesh with your current team members and if their values align with your own. The closer you align on these “soft skills,” the likelier the person will build and strengthen your company culture.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions About Company Culture, Too

be prepared to answer company culture questions

As part of the interview process, interviewers should always give candidates time to ask their own questions about the position and company culture. After all, candidates want to know if a prospective employer is a good fit for them. Honestly answering these questions is also an important part of ensuring a good cultural fit.

While candidates likely aren’t going to have a consistent template of questions that they’ll ask interviewers, hiring managers should still train interviewers on common topics that might come up. They can also encourage them to proactively talk about aspects of the company culture that they love.

Candidates are likely to ask about things like work-life balance, what the typical workday looks like, the company’s management style, and what professional development opportunities are available. Ideally, the interview team should include individuals who would work closely with the new hire so they can speak to practices within that department.

Your answers tell a candidate whether your office provides the right type of environment for them to thrive. It tells them what to expect and helps communicate your employer brand, which will be appealing to candidates who match your company culture.

An interviewer’s dress and demeanor can also communicate the company culture. For example, the way you dress helps illustrate whether the office is more “professional” or casual. By showing up on time and being friendly, you can highlight the positive, inviting culture of your workplace.

Make Company Culture a Priority During the Hiring Process

Don’t wait until after onboarding to find out if a new employee fits your workplace culture. Ask company culture interview questions that address a candidate’s cultural fit, and honestly answer their questions. With the tips above, you can ensure that new hires add to your company culture.

Prelude can help. By providing a personalized, branded candidate experience, as well as training for your interview team, your culture can shine through during the hiring process. With a quality interview process that presents your company culture in the best light, you’ll be better equipped to find that perfect candidate who will add to your company culture.