How To Assess Culture Fit During Interviews

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 29, 2021 | Published January 5, 2021

Updated March 29, 2021

Published January 5, 2021

Strong culture fit is an important quality to aim for as both a manager and an employee. Working alongside others who have complementary values, beliefs and attitudes creates a positive and collaborative work environment for team members, which can result in higher retention rates and performance metrics. You can use the interview process to assess whether a candidate is the right cultural fit. In this article, we explore what a culture fit is, why it's important and how to assess for cultural fit during an interview.

What does culture fit mean?

A person is a good "culture fit" at a company shares a similar or complementary set of values, beliefs, expectations, behaviors and attitudes with their company and leadership. Hiring individuals that fit your company's culture can help it feel more inclusive, engaging and enjoyable. A workplace where people feel supported, able to collaborate and be themselves at work can increase engagement, which can lead to reduced absenteeism, lower turnover and increased productivity, and even an increase in profitability.

One thing to remember as you’re assessing candidates is that the idea of “culture fit” can 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 a person's ability to bring fresh and additive ideas and feedback to the team. Culture adds make the company stronger by diversifying the experiences and perceptions of its workforce.

Related: The 5 Most Common Types of Corporate Culture

How to assess culture fit during an interview

Consider whether the candidate's actions match those of other team members to determine if they'd collaborate well with your team. Follow these steps to properly assess for cultural fit during your next interview:

1. Make sure the job description reflects your values and beliefs

A company's job description should not only share the details of the role, but it should also give the candidate an idea of what it'd be like to work with the company and on the team you manage. There should be a company description section that shares the organization's values, beliefs and mission, along with unique benefits and perks the organization also offers.

Organizations with strong company cultures will typically use this section to share positive values and attributes they look for in potential employees. A candidate can review it to determine whether these beliefs align well with their own.

Work with your team to develop a set list of values you believe the company holds. Evaluate your company's work environment to determine which qualities the employees possess that you'd like to see in potential candidates. You can feature these values within your job description and use them as a reference during interviews to decide if the candidate displays attributes that align with your predetermined values, beliefs and mission. This helps you better understand if the candidate is a strong culture fit.

Related: Core Values: Overview and Examples

2. Review the candidate's work background

As a manager, you can review the candidate's resume to learn more about their work background to give you a general idea of their work ethics, behaviors and attitudes. For instance, if their resume states they've been promoted several times at their recent workplace, this can tell you that they value hard work and growth within a company.

3. Use interview questions to assess values and beliefs

The interview is an important way for candidates to better understand their potential workplace and for managers to assess how well the employee can fit in with their team. Managers should refer to their list of values and beliefs and try to spot any references to them within the candidate's questions. For instance, if one of your values centers on teamwork and a candidate mentions that they'd prefer to work on a team rather than independently, they could be a strong culture fit.

Common general interview questions you can ask candidates to better assess their attributes, personality traits and values include:

  • What hobbies and interests do you engage in outside of work and what do you like most about them?

  • What motivates you in your professional life?

  • Do you have any unique skills or qualities that make you best suited for the role?

  • What management style do you believe you work best with?

  • What's your ideal work environment?

Related: 65 Common Cultural Fit Interview Questions

4. Listen closely to responses to behavioral questions

Behavioral interview questions focus primarily on how candidates have handled certain work situations in their past roles. These can help you better understand how candidates will approach and overcome similar challenges for your organization. Asking candidates these questions also allows you to gain an idea of their personality and workplace attitudes.

As managers, learning how candidates make common workplace decisions helps you better understand their attitudes and personalities to determine if they'd fit in well with other employees. Common behavioral questions you can ask candidates to understand if they're a good match for your organization include:

  • Have you ever had to collaborate closely with a team member who had a personality that differed from yours?

  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake on a project. What did you learn from this experience?

  • Can you describe a moment when you and your team members had to overcome a complex challenge?

Related: How To Prepare for Company Culture Interview Questions

5. Engage in casual conversation before and after the interview

You can learn a lot about a candidate's personality, attitude and overall character by engaging in small talk before and after the official interview. This gives you an idea of how the candidate interacts with people casually, which helps you better understand how they'll engage with others in the workplace. If a candidate is professional and courteous when speaking casually before or after the interview, they may create a more positive and enjoyable atmosphere and a strong culture fit with your team members.

Explore more articles