Unmasking the Culture Fit Interview

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Do you love the position you are applying for, or it’s just the only open option for you? Do your values mesh well with the existing or the desired company culture?

Researchers have consistently proven that going for a culture fit candidate creates a warm working environment where employees are more productive. With job satisfaction at the ceiling, there’s reduced turnover, which saves the cost of recruitment.

Unmasking the Culture Fit Interview

Consequently, a company’s best interest lies in finding somebody who’s a good match. But not even a perfectly written resume with impressive experience and glittering recommendations can tell your fit. That’s why hiring managers conduct culture fit interviews.

Any job seeker would struggle to answer culture fit interview questions as they appear simple, but are trickier than they seem. But it’s because most candidates rarely prepare for fit questions properly. They spend their preparation time running through case interview examples, practising their mental math and working on their reasoning skills.

Please don’t lose your hair over it, though. In this article, we explore the tricks to use to reveal the gist behind every culture fit question.

What’s a culture fit interview?

Cultural fit interviews bring out the candidate’s values, beliefs and behaviour so that a recruiter can compare them with the company’s culture as well as the desired soft skills for the open position.

Even if you are a smart and experienced technocrat, if your values and those of the hiring company clash, hiring you would only create an unhealthy atmosphere.
Shared values, marrying beliefs, accompanied by the right behaviour, dictates the culture fit of a candidate.

Benefits of a culture fit candidate

  • Job Satisfaction – if you are happy and content with your roles in the company, you are more enthusiastic and dedicated to your tasks.
  • Quality Work – Many studies show that employee satisfaction is a reliable indicator of long-term positive company performance since output and efficiency are optimal.
  • Low employee turnover – Since you are satisfied with your position, there’s no reason for you to leave the company, which saves the company the overhead costs.
  • Ownership of the company values – the company doesn’t need to continually remind you of their beliefs and values as the motivation comes from within you.

The structure of culture fit questions

Hiring for cultural fit has a lot of intricacies and challenges. As such, there are no specific culture fit questions that you should prepare for; rather, you need to know the structures of these questions to understand them.

For starters, these open-ended questions go more in-depth than what they seem. They are multilayered, and may not have a specific answer. The trick of answering them well lies in first identifying what the interviewer seeks to find.

Fit questions will measure your values. The deal here is to see if you match the company’s core values. Your answers guide the interview and determine the subsequent questions, which is why there’s no magic bullet here. Your answers may raise red flags, or put you in pole position to win the slot.

For example, to assess your team play, the panel can ask;

  • ‘How would your co-workers describe?’
  • ‘How would your boss describe you?’

In both cases, the interviewer is merely asking you if you value teamwork and whether you are a team player.

teamwork

On your efficiency, the panel would go for questions on quality. For instance, “ how do you enhance the quality of your work, and give us an example of how you focused on quality in your previous role?’.

HR experts believe we are very honest about people’s opinion about us. Thus, while you’ll be quick to give your honest review of how these third parties describe you, the interviewer picks the insights of your approach to team dynamics.

It is easier for the panel to have an understanding of how you view their values by how you respond to the questions.

An ideal candidate is not one with no flaws. But one who displays the courage to be vulnerable takes negative feedback positively, and naturally demonstrates the ability to learn faster.

In essence, the HR tests your response to company values through actions. How you respond, and not the answer you give, show how you may or may not live the company values.

How to answer culture fit questions

While each of the answers holds its unique nugget of advice, I started to notice a few key commonalities. (Which is reassuring, because it means that hiring for cultural fit is achievable!)

Before you answer a culture fit question, there’s a nugget of wisdom in first identifying the various layers of the issues. Each question has three primary themes, namely:

  • Company values – how you related to company values
  • Assess holistically – your realistic view of the position and company as a whole.
  • Uniqueness – How unique are you and what more do you offer other than the culture fit.

To identify these three themes, you need to research about the company. Because the panel frames the questions around your resume, your research needs to start early, before you even present your cover letter.

While you can get information about your target company by visiting its website, Websites like Glassdoor are more independent and give you unbiased opinions and information. Also, network and talk to the current and former employees for a balanced overview of the company.

Talking to those who have been there and done that enables you to know how your intended role interacts with other positions, its working conditions, salary and perks, and most importantly, the challenges you should prepare to face.

As conversation starters, fit questions interrogate your resume in relations to the open position. While addressing the interview questions, you want to employ the STAR framework, i.e.;

  • Situation – the circumstance
  • Task – your assignment
  • Actions – how you did it
  • Result – Success or failure and why

To be efficient, put this framework in practice by simulating an interview experience. Get some fit interviews, answer the questions and get the score. You can always turn to friends to help you with the exercise.

While training, research further on other things that pop up but whose answer you don’t know. Mainly take an interest in the follow-up questions as they are the ones that fail most candidates.

There you go!

The fit interview helps the hiring company get the most suitable candidate for the open position. Through these questions, the hiring manager gets you to open up and lead to an in-depth discussion, which helps the company evaluate your suitability.

Calmness, confidence, and enthusiasm when facing the panel is seductive and may tilt the fortunes in your favour. But the bottom line is all the relevant information at the back of your fingers.

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