5 Must-Ask Interview Questions to Assess Cultural Fit

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Erica Tiffany
Erica Tiffany




You’re face-to-face with a doe-eyed interviewee holding a rockstar résumé, and you’re seriously tempted to lock the person into a contractual agreement on the spot. As the hiring manager for your agency, you’re searching for the best of the best in your industry, and you’re positive you’ve finally found it.

So what’s stopping you?

Agencies are places of collaboration, and for this to work, everyone needs to "get along" or at least be able to work productively together. According to psychologist and culture fit expert Natalie Baumgartner, 89% of new hires who fail do so because they were a poor fit in the workplace. An applicant may look perfect on paper, but if he doesn't mesh with your cultural vibe, you’ll both be happier parting ways now.

Avoid the high costs of turnover, and keep your company culture secure by asking these five questions in your next interview:

1) What activities do you do outside of work that benefit your day-to-day job?

Whether it’s exercise to let off steam or attending local networking events to get involved with the community, someone who has his own personal development strategy is someone who takes charge of his own destiny. You're looking for someone who is inspired outside of the office -- because that inspiration will trickle back into your agency and the work. 

2) Can you give me a random bit of trivia about yourself?

This question will reveal how comfortable a person feels chatting with you. If he answers with something short and standoffish, you know he might take some time to warm up to the team. If he answers with something he perceives as embarrassing, like he runs a Harry Potter fan site, he just might fit in with your eccentric crew.

3) How do you feel about our company values? 

An interview is a two-way street, so the candidate should have done his part to discover key facts about your company. He should know if it is a good fit for him.

Ask this question to see how much pre-interview research the candidate did, and use it to open up a conversation about your company's culture and why you value it. Remember: You want the interviewee to be honest, so award him the same courtesy by painting an accurate picture of what your company culture is like today. Avoid using aspirational buzzwords when describing your company, and be as authentic as possible. 

4) Tell me a time about when you encountered a conflict with a co-worker. How did you overcome it?

Employees must have solid interpersonal skills; otherwise, your company culture will lose its flavor faster than a piece of Dubble Bubble gum. There will always be times when co-workers disagree, but it’s how they handle situations and move on that matters. 

5) Would you be willing to take a DISC assessment?

DISC is a personality assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston. A DISC assessment allows co-workers to understand each other in a profound way. It reveals what people are motivated by, their ideal environment, dislikes, communications do's and don’ts, and even hidden desires. DISC offers fascinating insight, but it won’t tell you everything. Trust your gut, and bring promising applicants back for a second interview with another manager if you’re really unsure.

Part science and part gut check, hiring a new employee is an exhaustive task that can be made easier -- and exponentially more successful -- when you analyze if candidates are great culture fits, not just whether or not they can do the job.

Understand your culture, protect it, and find people who believe it. It's the only way you can hope to have a culture to call your own. 


Topics: Interviews

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