Most candidates who make it to the job interview stage have the skills to do the job. However, will they fit with your company’s culture?

When hiring new employees, it’s always a good idea to throw in a few curve ball questions to verify that not only do they have the technical ability to do the job at hand, but to make sure they will be a good cultural fit for your organisation. After all, we spend approximately 50% of our waking hours at work – you want to make sure that the people you are bringing into your environment are going to make it a more pleasant one.

 

“We spend approximately 50% of our waking hours at work – you want to make sure that the people you are bringing into your environment are going to make it a more pleasant one.”

 

Try to avoid stereotypical questions like: “If you were a fruit, what would you be and why?” These are no longer relevant when it comes to assessing compatibility. In fact, this question will only answer one thing for you – that your potential new staff member has spent a lot of time Googling the perfect answer.* To determine if someone will be a good cultural fit, you will need to dig a little deeper. Here are four questions to ask candidates to ensure cultural compatibility before you put an offer on the table.

1: Describe your ideal cultural environment that will allow you to work to your best potential?

For some candidates, culture can be the deciding factor between accepting and declining a job offer. Glassdoor reports that job seekers cite company culture as their second-highest priority, “almost tied with salary”. While a lot of startups offer soft benefits to appeal to younger workers – complimentary fruit, smoothies, pool tables and evening beers – an older, more experienced candidate may be looking for a more professional and process driven environment with clearly defined direction and goals. Establishing the cultural needs and expectations of a candidate early in the interview process will save a lot of time in the long run.

2: What physical surroundings can we provide to help you do your job to your best ability?

This is a great question to ask to get an idea of the expectations of your potential employee. While some people thrive in chaos and bustle, others may need a lot of quiet space to excel at their job. If your office is situated in an open plan, noisy environment, this may not be an ideal match. While it may sound trivial, things like noise complaints can grate pretty quickly and there is no better way for a new employee to distance themselves from their colleagues than a passive aggressive email asking everyone “to be more considerate – some of us are trying to work here”.

3: Tell me about your greatest achievement at work?

The way in which a candidate answers this question can tell you a lot about their individual values and what they consider being an achievement. Do they credit teamwork? Or do they emphasise the fact that they worked alone and accomplished this goal with little assistance from anyone else? This can be a good indication of how they like to work. Perhaps they focus more on the negatives they had to overcome rather than the positives of achieving the goal – this can give you some insight into how they may view challenges in the future.

4: What kind of work situation makes you feel uncomfortable?

This question can be uncomfortable in itself but it’s an excellent way to gauge scenarios that new employees may struggle with. If a candidate mentions that they dislike confrontation and your organisation prides itself on open discussion and challenging ideas publicly, this could suggest that they may find themselves in awkward situations more often than they would like.

Establishing corporate and personal values early on can save both you, the employer, and the candidate a lot of time and heartache. There is little point continuing with the process if you both know that deep down; it’s just not the right (cultural) fit.

*The perfect answer, by the way, is an avocado. “A tough exterior with a soft centre and a solid core. Much like the humble avocado, I have the ability to be versatile and perform well in different situations, whether alone or as part of a bigger team”. (Unless you are applying for a job at a tech company, in which case you would be an Apple. Obviously.)

Article by Niamh Linehan.

Image from Shutterstock.