Culture fit questions: Hiring people who nurture our valuable company culture

The early months of the year are widely regarded as some of the busiest when it comes to hiring, and as a result, there is a good chance that many hiring managers are currently wrestling with how to use the interview process to find the candidates that are the best culture fit for their business.

In the creative, digital and tech sector today we’re all working hard to combat major skills shortages UK-wide and so we’re using company culture to attract and retain the best talent in our teams. If our valuable company culture is to prevail, it’s essential to hire the candidate who best fits our values as well as matching the all-important technical skills to the role.

More and more often we’re seeing companies change their interview process to include a section of questions around culture fit. Of course if your candidates have come via a recruitment agency, such as Concept Personnel, or if you’ve done a telephone screening, you’re likely to have already screened for skills match ahead of the face-to-face interview stage. Let’s face it, it’s easy to get the skills fit right by putting technical folks in front of technical folks and observing the sparks flying from their conversations. But how do you find out from the interview process if the interviewee is going to fit with your values and culture?

The best questions are those left open to interpretation by the candidate, so you get an insight into where their focus lies and what they consider a priority to tell you. Here are some suggestions of culture fit questions that will help you hire the best match for your team:

Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your CV?

This question will get them talking about themselves outside of work, they’ll relax a little when they’re talking about their outside life and you might even be able to find some common ground so you can help them to get over their initial interview jitters.

How would your current manager describe you?

Use this question to get an idea about what the interviewee is going to be like to manage but also, what they’re going to be like as an employee and team member. You’ll find out if they have a good relationship with their current manager or whether there is any friction here which will also help you when it comes down to handing in their notice or negotiating their notice period.

What are the qualities that you like/dislike in a colleague?

This will make them think outside the box a little and give you an idea of how the candidate interacts with their wider team. You’ll find out if they make friends in the workplace and contribute to the vibe or whether they are a bit of a lone cowboy.

Can you give me an example of where you’ve gone against recommendation and process and what was the outcome?

Whether you’re looking for someone who is process driven or a risk taker, this question will tell you whether the interviewee can think outside the box and how would they deal with the eventuality where things don’t go according to plan. Of course there are times where it is or isn’t appropriate to go off-piste so what the candidate thinks is appropriate to share here is always quite telling.

What is the best mistake you have ever made or Tell me about a day when everything went to pot. What happened, how did you handle it and what was the outcome?

We all have days where everything goes a bit haywire, so asking these types of questions will give you an idea of how they react and what their attitude is towards failure. Do they see failure as a move towards success or are they going to crumble under pressure? This is an unusual type of question so it’s unlikely they will have prepared for it. You’ll get a glimpse into whether they can think on their feet.

Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?

No easy answer here but it’s a good question to see how the person approaches time management issues, as well as how much pride they take in their work and where their priorities lie.

What have you learned recently, how did you learn it and why did you need to learn it?

An interesting open-ended question where the candidate could give you an example from their career or their personal life. Using this question will give you an idea about their attitude towards personal development and whether they take the initiative to improve their skills. Did their body language and facial expressions light up when they thought about their answer? Are they proud of what they’ve learned? Was it extra-curricular learning that they could then apply to the workplace?

Fundamentally, the best way to understand if a candidate fits your culture is to understand the candidate, asking questions that take the conversation beyond their work persona and challenging the way they approach both their professional and personal life. A greater understanding into your candidate’s wider personality will give you a better view on how they will fit into your company’s culture and how to manage them in order to maximise their potential.


For further advice on hiring the right culture fit candidate in the Creative, Marketing

and Digital Sector, contact Jo Carter, Managing Director of Concept Personnel.

www.linkedin.com/in/jo-carter-concept