How to Determine if a Candidate is the Right Fit for Your Corporate Culture

How many times have we heard this story? During the interview, candidates say “Yes, I’m committed, willing to do this, love to do that” and so on. Then after they start, we realize they’re not a good cultural fit for our organization. 

One way to determine if a candidate really aligns with your organization is by using behavioral interviewing questions. As a refresher, behavioral interview questions are those that ask the candidate to talk about something they’ve done in the past. The idea being that past performance is a good indicator of future behavior.

For example, let’s say your organization places a great value on customer service. You will want to ask customer service related questions during the interview. There are three different ways you can ask the question:

Do you have good customer service skills? This is a closed-ended question. And seriously, who’s going to say, “My customer service skills are awful.” 

How would you handle an angry customer? On the surface, a better question than the first one. But a candidate can easily give a textbook answer. It doesn’t tell you what the candidate has done.

Tell me about a time when you’ve solved a customer problem. This is a behavioral question. The candidate’s reply will tell you about a specific situation they’ve handled in the past.

Use this same concept to develop the rest of your interview questions related to organizational values. For instance:

  • Tell me the steps you take to monitor the quality of your work. (Quality)
  • Tell me about a time when you pitched in to help someone else finish a project even though it “wasn’t your job.” What was the result? (Teamwork)
  • Describe the most creative thing you did in your last job. (Creativity)
  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade a person to accept an idea that you knew they wouldn’t like. (Persuasiveness)

You probably noticed most behavioral interview questions start with “Tell me about a time…”. It’s a great tip for making sure you’re asking the candidate to share with you something they’ve done in the past.

Speaking of tips, the other thing I’ve learned over the years is not to shy away from getting other people involved in the interviewing process. Many times only the hiring manager or HR handle the process. But I’ve found having candidates talk with their future peers is a good thing. It does take a little explaining on the front end – let candidates know what you’re doing – but the benefits are many:

  • It gives the candidate additional insight into the company. They get to meet some of the people they will work with every day. Chances are once they get hired, if they have a question, these are the people they will go to (before their manager or HR.)
  • The company gets additional support for the candidate. If the peer group buys into the hire, they will show the new employee the ropes.

Asking the right questions and getting people involved in the hiring process can give the company more insight about the candidate and vice versa. It’s a win-win for everyone. 


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