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Culture fit interview questions: everything you need to know

September 24, 2019
5 minute read
Last updated February 25, 2020

When hiring, you must determine whether candidates will thrive in the role, on the team, and within the company culture. Asking the right culture fit interview questions allows you to determine candidate culture fit. 

High-performing companies look beyond the briefcase. After all, a pedigreed resume reveals nothing about a person’s values, passions, interests, and beliefs. It gives zero insight into the candidate’s preferred work environment. Put simply, companies that interview the whole person make better hiring decisions. 

What are culture fit interview questions?

Hiring managers ask culture fit interview questions as part of the hiring process to determine alignment between candidates and company culture. Interviewing for culture fit is an objective way to measure if someone is a good match for your organization. 

The way a candidate answers culture fit interview questions reveals a lot about their preferred work style, their preferred type of work environment, and their personal beliefs and values. 

hiring for culture fit

Culture fit interview questions should be based on culture type.

Organizational cultures can be grouped into four main categories:

  • Exploring (focused on innovation and agility)
  • Stabilizing (focused on process and precision)
  • Cultivating (focused on teamwork and relationships)
  • Producing (focused on results and discipline)

For example, if your company seeks to bring new products to market quickly, you likely have an “exploring” culture. To hire good culture fits, screen for related behaviors (non-conforming, venturesome, flexible) and values (originality, exploration, adaptability).

Some companies fall squarely into two categories. If that’s you, ask questions that pertain to both culture types. 

Not sure what quadrant your company falls into? Take this short quiz.

Hiring for culture add vs. hiring for culture fit

It’s worth noting that you might need to screen for culture add rather than culture fit as your company changes over time. 

For example, if your company falls into the “exploring” category, you may need to hire more stabilizing people to develop processes that will ensure quality and enable you to grow even faster.

So, determining candidate culture fit can mean two things:

  • Determining if a candidate fits your current culture  
  • Determining if a candidate enhances the culture you’re developing

20 culture fit interview questions to ask candidates

Here are 20 interview questions you can ask to gauge candidate fit, based on the culture you have:

Cultivating:

Tell me about a time you had to go outside of your role to help another team member.

What was the best team-building exercise you ever completed?

What was the worst team-building exercise you ever completed?

How do you like to interact with your co-workers?

Tell me about a time you and a co-worker disagreed on a decision. How did you resolve the issue?

Stabilizing:

What does high performance look like to you?

What’s your process for decision making?

How do you prefer to learn a new skill?

How do you ensure the quality of your work?

Tell me about a time a process didn’t exist and you had to implement one. How did you go about it? What was the outcome?

Exploring:

Tell me about a time you had to change directions quickly. What was the outcome? 

How did you earn your first dollar?

If you were going to start a business, what would it be?

Tell me about a time you took a calculated risk. What was the situation? What was the outcome?

How do you balance the need to get things done against finding better ways to do them?

Producing:

How do you go about planning your work?

How do you prioritize?

Tell me about a time you failed at something but then went on to succeed at it.

What motivates you to do your best?

Tell me about a time you did not meet expectations. What was the situation? How did you navigate it?

Avoid turnover by hiring the right fit for your company culture.

Download this guide on interviewing for culture fit, including 16 questions and scoring rubric.
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To determine additional culture fit interview questions to ask, identify the behaviors and values that map to your culture type—then screen for those.

How to assemble a team of culture fit interviewers

Here at The Predictive Index®, we have a team of employees who are specially trained to interview candidates to determine culture fit. They ask a set of questions that map to our core values

If the interviewers uncover red flags (i.e., the person has a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset), it’s clear they’re not a good match—regardless of any top-notch academic or professional credentials.

Why you should ask interview questions to assess culture fit

If an employee’s values don’t align with their company’s values, they’ll lack a sense of belonging. This misalignment between the employee and the company culture causes disengagement and poor performance. 

The 2019 Employee Engagement Report found that company culture is a top driver of both engagement and turnover intent. In other words, when employees feel connected to your company culture, they’re more engaged and less likely to quit. When they don’t feel connected to your company culture, they’re less engaged and more likely to quit. 

Adding this layer to your talent acquisition process increases your chances of hiring well. When you hire people that mesh well with—or add to—your workplace culture, they’re more likely to stick around long term and deliver the results you want.

Test your knowledge of interviewing for culture fit with this mini quiz: