How To Prepare for Company Culture-Fit Interview Questions
Updated December 7, 2022
Published October 7, 2019
Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.
It’s important for employers to hire individuals who align with the company’s values and mission. So it can be helpful to prepare for interview questions that deal with how you would fit in with the company culture. Your answers to these questions can help the interviewer understand your personality, work style and core values and how you would contribute to the company’s success.
In this article, we discuss what makes up a company’s culture and how you can answer culture-fit interview questions.
What is company culture?
Company culture is a business's attitudes, values, behaviors and goals—from entry-level workers to executive management. A company’s culture defines the way people interact with each other and the way the company makes decisions. Culture can affect how many tasks you complete in a day, how often your company holds meetings and how open management is to discuss new ideas.
One thing to remember as you’re discussing your fitness for the company with employers is that the idea of “culture fit” can sometimes be used as a way to eliminate and discriminate against candidates, however unknowingly, who don’t think, act or look like existing employees. A better alternative concept you might consider speaking to is “culture add,” or your ability to bring fresh and additive ideas and feedback to the team. Culture adds make the company stronger by diversifying the experiences and perspectives of its workforce.
Read more: Guide to Company Culture
Why prepare for cultural interview questions?
Learning about a company’s culture before your interview is important for two reasons. First, you want to make sure the company is a strong fit for you in terms of responsibilities, interaction with colleagues and work environment. You will probably be happier in a position where the company’s values align with your own, where you get along well with coworkers and where you feel supported and encouraged.
Second, it's important to convey to the hiring manager that you will be a strong addition to the company’s culture. When you know what the company’s values are, what the organization expects from employees and what sort of employees they seek, you can tailor your answers to the interviewer’s questions to highlight what you have in common.
10 common interview questions about company culture
Here are some examples of culture interview questions your interviewer may ask:
1. Describe the environment in which you work best.
Your interviewer likely wants to know if you will be comfortable in your daily workplace environment, such as an office without walls or cubicles to separate employees, or a workplace that allows flexible hours and telecommuting. Some employers require workers to be “on-call” to answer emails at all hours, while others adhere to a nine-to-five workday. You could also state if you prefer working at a company that encourages individual successes or a position where you work mainly with a team.
Example: “I enjoy working as part of a team to achieve goals. My previous jobs have had open offices without cubicle walls, which encouraged us to get feedback from others about our ideas and equally share in the workload.”
2. Describe your ideal boss or supervisor.
Your interviewer may ask this question to find out how you respond to direction. It is important to be positive about your previous work experiences instead of listing problems you may have had with an employer. Try to tailor your answer to the job you are looking for, and balance your response to show you can work independently but also appreciate a supervisor’s guidance.
Example: “My ideal boss is someone who allows employees to have freedom in daily operations, but is always available to answer questions and help when needed.”
3. Do you prefer to get feedback about your performance through formal reviews or informal meetings?
Some companies have scheduled employee reviews with structured rubrics, which are often tied to pay raises. Others rarely schedule evaluations but offer feedback whenever the occasion warrants. Your interviewer likely wants to know if you will be comfortable with reviews and raises randomly throughout the year, or prefer to know when to expect it.
Example: “I prefer regular performance evaluations at least once a year, but I also appreciate receiving informal feedback whenever it is appropriate.”
4. Why do you want to work for us?
The interviewer may ask this question to find out your motivation for choosing either this company or the position you are applying for. It shows not only that you share the company’s mission and values but also that you have good reason to believe you’ll fit with the organization’s culture.
Example: “I have great respect for the quality products this company sells and would be proud to help maintain its positive reputation in the industry. I recently saw an article stating this company is a top-rated employer for encouraging innovation, and as a creative person I believe I would be an asset to the team.”
5. Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?
The answer to this question will help employers know if you’d be happy with the amount of collaboration that is required of the job. For example, a sales associate position may involve more working together to achieve shared goals and ongoing teamwork than a position as a technical writer who may spend most of their day working on their responsibilities alone.
Example: “I have always thrived in positions where I can collaborate with others. I strongly believe that great work is achieved when more opinions and ideas are shared. However, I am fully capable of doing heads-down work when it’s needed.”
6. How would your coworkers describe you?
Employers ask this question to gain a sense of your personality and strengths. It can also show how self-aware you are, as employers may be able to compare your answer with the feedback your references have shared about you. Interviewers will look for characteristics and personality traits that would contribute to your success in the position.
Example: “My previous company had annual peer reviews that were very helpful in understanding how my coworkers viewed me. In their feedback, they consistently shared that I was reliable, a natural leader and someone who works well under pressure.”
7. How do you handle stress?
All positions come with certain levels of stress, so it’s helpful for employers to understand how you manage and work through stress. Interviewers will be seeking specific strategies you use to navigate stressful situations.
Example: ”My first position out of college had strict deadlines and a large workload. Although it was stressful at times, it allowed me to learn how to handle stress in the workplace. Organization and attention-to-detail help me to navigate these stressful situations. I create daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists to ensure I stay prioritized and on track.”
8. How important is work-life balance to you?
This can be a tricky question to answer as companies can have different ideas of what a healthy work-life balance is. While most employers look for an employee that has a strong work ethic, they also want someone who knows how to manage work and life to avoid burnout.
Example: ”A healthy work-life balance is important to me. I believe it’s normal to put in extra hours to finish tasks that are time-sensitive from time to time, however, I believe it’s also important to have time outside of work to relax and refresh so I can continue to be as productive as possible while at work.”
9. What motivates you?
Your response to this question will help employers understand if your motivations are in alignment with the position. It also gives employers insight into if you’re self-aware enough to know what type of work is motivating to you.
Example: “As a caregiver, I am deeply motivated by helping others. My grandmother had a dedicated caregiver when I was growing up and I never forgot the relief and security it brought to my family. I’m driven knowing that I’m making a difference in the life of my patients and their families.”
10. Which of our company values resonates most with you?
Most companies have core values or mission statements they use as principals in how they operate the business. Having a strong answer to this question will show that you’ve done your research on the company and that your motivations are in alignment with the company’s.
Example: “I identify with your company’s value of putting the customer first. I am a strong believer in great customer service. When I receive great customer service from a company I am much more likely to return. I would love to work for a company that promotes putting yourself in the shoes of a customer before making any decisions.”
Additional culture fit interview questions
What do you need to be productive?
What’s your ideal work schedule?
What’s the last book you ready?
What’s your favorite podcast?
Describe your dream job.
What is your leadership style?
What are you passionate about?
Do you do any charitable work?
What would be your goals for the first 90 days if you were hired?
How do you maintain relationships in the workplace?
Do you take work home with you?
What’s a common misconception about you?
What do you do when others disagree with your opinion or idea?
Do you become friends with your coworkers?
What’s a lesson you’ve learned from the workplace?
What’s your favorite team-building activity?
What are your expectations of a senior leadership team?
What is your plan for the next 5 years?
How do you prefer to communicate with coworkers?
Who inspires you and why?
What tools do you use to work efficiently?
Tell me about a time you took a risk professionally.
How do you handle disappointments?
Describe your dream job.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Read more: 65 Common Culture Fit Interview Questions
How to prepare for interview questions about company culture
Here are some steps you can take to prepare to answer culture fit interview questions:
1. Learn what components make up a company’s culture
When you know a company’s culture, you can target your research and prepare more thorough answers. A business’s culture typically includes the following elements:
Values and mission
A mission statement summarizes the core principles and organization goals. Some companies have long and complex mission statements, and others are short and to the point. The important thing is that the company follows through on the mission statement in its daily operations and goals.
When people work well together, they may develop a sense of camaraderie and build stronger working relationships. Getting to know coworkers on a personal level helps a company build a successful, cooperative and supportive team.
Nearly every business evaluates employee performance. The company culture includes how employees are evaluated, how often and how success is defined. For example, a company might do an informal quarterly review or a more comprehensive written report every year.
Celebrations and recognition
Many companies reward employee successes to keep them motivated and satisfied in their jobs. Some even celebrate personal achievements, such as anniversaries or weddings.
Interactions with the community
Many companies sponsor community outreach efforts. These can involve fundraising events or a volunteer program. Community service can be a great source of pride within an organization.
It’s important to understand how employees and management communicate with one another. For example, they may exchange emails or text messages. The company or department may publish a newsletter. Communication could also refer to whether your supervisor will be available to answer questions, if they have an “open door” policy or if you need to make an appointment.
Learning and career development
Some businesses are committed to their employee's personal growth and future career advancement. For instance, they may offer tuition reimbursement or a subscription to an online training program.
The workspace could also play a large part in the company’s culture. You may have a separate office or cubicle or may share an open area. Many businesses allow employees to decorate and personalize their spaces, and others may have more formal arrangements. Other factors include the office’s noise level and whether they allow telecommuting.
Businesses are often proud of their history, whether they are new or well-established. Some make it a priority that their employees know the personal stories of the business’ founders and how it evolved.
2. Find information about the company’s culture
You can research an organization’s culture along with reviews, Q&A, open jobs and more on Indeed Company Pages. Here are some additional ways to research your potential employer’s culture:
Visit the company’s website
On its webpage, you can usually read the company’s mission statement, see how they wrote the web copy and how they designed the site. Also, if there is a company newsletter, you can read back issues and learn more about how the company operates.
Read more: The Complete Guide to Researching a Company
Look at social media
Companies will typically post what they’re most proud of to their social media accounts. You may be able to see what events they celebrate, customer testimonials, pictures of the office and more. You should be able to tell whether the company culture is casual or formal, based on their social media presence.
Research print media
Newspaper or magazine articles about the company can provide insight into its culture. For instance, media outlets will often report on a company’s community outreach efforts, which could show that they value social responsibility.
Ask the interviewer
Most job interviews include a time when you can ask questions, so use this time to discuss the company culture. It may impress the interviewer you took the time to ask insightful questions.
Talk to people at the company
Try to find someone in a similar position to the one you are seeking and ask them what it is like to work there. You can often find employees’ job titles and contact information on the company’s web page or professional networking sites.
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