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12 smart interview questions to get best culture-fit candidates

Get the 12 interview questions that can help you identify candidates that fit your company's culture

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Get these key interview questions (for free) to qualify your future culture-fit candidates, from personal motivation to teamwork behaviors.

Overview

Hiring the right people for your organization is a challenging task. You want to hire the job applicant who, in addition to the required job skills and qualifications, exhibits the best fit within your company culture.

To find candidates capable of doing it all, you need to be strategic and intentional in your interview approach. This means asking questions that dig into the interviewee's mindset, personalities, motivations, passion, work ethic, and more.

And that’s why we wrote this interview guide including 12 questions to help you qualify your future candidates. 

What questions you should ask to get the best culture-fit candidates

Question 1: What kind of environment are you looking for?

Why this question is useful?

  • Helps you check if the candidate is somehow aligned with the company / team values
  • Don’t look for a perfect match between what candidates value and what the company / team values are. Instead, look for alignment and avoid direct opposite values
  • This means you need to identify clearly what values you are trying to ‘optimize’ for in an interview
  • Be wary of vague answer like “professional”, “transparent” or “good teamwork”. Ask “What do you mean by professional / transparent / good teamwork” in order to understand candidates at a deeper level

Example

If one of your team value is Ownership and the candidate states that s/he values Responsibility, there is a relatively good alignment.

However, if she states that s/he values Freedom, you may want to check what s/he means by that (Freedom doesn’t necessarily contradict Ownership but you need to understand what the candidate means by Freedom)

Question 2: Describe the working environment that will allow you to express your full potential

Why this question is useful?

  • Compare what the candidate is looking for with what you have to offer: is there a gap and how big is it?
  • By asking why candidates look for certain environments, you can also learn and tweak what you think makes sense for your team

Example

A candidate may say s/he feels s/he can express her full potential as long as everyone in the team is open for feedback and there are formal feedback sessions between peers where everyone is requested to suggest improvement suggestions to at least one other team member.

You may realize that you don’t have such formal feedback sessions and may consider implementing them

Question 3: What achievement made you feel the proudest in your career?

Why this question is useful?

  • Helps you understand what triggers the candidate’s sense of pride: is it team success or personal success? Is it being recognized by external parties or just knowing internally that s/he has done a good job?
  • Within a team, teamwork is always important. While there is no right or wrong answer, you may want to take a mental note if the candidate only talks about her/his personal achievement and very little about team or company achievements

Question 4: What was the hardest professional challenge you had to overcome? If you had the opportunity to replay that situation again, what would you do differently?

Why this question is useful?

  • This allows you to assess critical thinking and the ability to self-improve. Instead of asking generic questions that people can trick (ex: what lessons did you learn from it?), ask the harder question: what would you do differently? It is more practical and requires more thinking
  • This also allows you to ‘benchmark’ what the candidate feels like a hard challenge - which will tell you if the candidate is join your team or not (if the challenges your team are facing are a degree of magnitude higher than the candidate’s hardest challenge, it may be too hard for her/him to do a good job, at least in a short period of time)
  • If the candidate tries to make something up, s/he will usually mumble and make up something on the spot. This means she has probably not thought about this issue yet
  • Try to gauge if the answer makes sense to you. If not, ask the candidate to elaborate more, or challenge her/him to see how she reacts

Question 5: Imagine you join the team tomorrow. Describe what you’re going to do in your first week

Why this question is useful?

  • This is a very open-ended question and helps you check if the candidates has even thought about this
  • Getting to know the team members is often the first priority. Failure to mention this is a red flag
  • Failure to inquire about the team culture or how things are being done ‘around here’ is also a red flag: how can a new person fit in a new team if s/he doesn’t understand the culture in the first place?

Download free the full question list 👉

In this interview guide, you will learn

  • How to approach your candidates with strategic and intentional questions.
  • How to find alignment between candidates' values and team's values.
  • How to understand candidates' mindset, personalities, motivations, work ethics and more...

How to use this template

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  • 🖨
    Print out for easier handling and communication with your team.

Who this template is for

  • Hiring managers who want to find both talented and culture-fit candidates. 
  • Recruiters developing the question set to target the right candidates.
  • Businesses that want to ensure their company's culture is on the right track.

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