12 Culture Interview Questions to Get the Right Fit

older female employee happy to work

Finding a qualified candidate with the right skill set is one challenge. Finding someone that fits your company culture is another. It’s important to consider how your potential hire complements your current staff to determine if they will work well in your environment. You don’t want clones. Instead, you want to find people who share your values, but also bring diversity and a different approach. Here are 13 questions you can use in interviews, and how you can use them to learn more about the person sitting across the table.

What’s the greatest workday of your life?

This can be an incredible tool for determining if an employee is going to be a good fit. It reveals what their typical days might look like, what it might look like if they work for you, what inspires them, and what is motivating. If their “greatest day” doesn’t reflect the purpose of hiring them, it might not be a good match. 

What was the best way you delegated a task?

This question is designed to learn more about the way an employee leads. For anyone who is not entry-level, this question can help you to learn whether they are up for leadership responsibilities. 

What was a time you didn’t know how to do something?

There is new information, technology, and platforms launching every day. There is a lot to know and by morning, you’re already behind. It’s important that everyone has strong problem-solving abilities and how they can tackle a challenge and think on their feet.

What do you appreciate most about working in a team? Do you dislike any elements of teamwork?

This question can be especially helpful in group interview sessions, especially with the other team members they would be working with. This allows members of the team to decide together if their team can use this additional player. A group consensus can help weed out undesirables fairly quickly. 

How would you fly a helicopter full of peanuts?

The goal here is to assess the candidate’s critical thinking and management skills. Honestly, you can just make up your own insane question. But ask it right in the middle of your list of normal interview questions to create a real “curveball” environment and catch them off guard. Candidates who answer with no qualifying questions may display either arrogance or ignorance. If they ask too many qualifying questions they may be stalling and not sure how to respond. Most of all, is there a solution in alignment with your core values? Crazy questions like this can be very telling if you know what to listen for.

What can your hobbies tell me that your resume can’t?

This helps you see their creative side, or what really energizes them. Look for people with broad interests and hobbies that show they can adapt to different tasks and try new things.

What are the 3 most important things in an ideal job?

This can tell you a lot about the candidate and why they applied for the position. For example, if one of their top three is a flexible work schedule, it tells me that their home and family life is important and will be a priority to them. If they don’t mention financials at all, it may indicate they don’t have a good sense of measuring their work and their time. If they mention something about their progress as a leader, it shows their ambition and future goals. This question can also show red flags if they bring up something that isn’t part of what you are offering, they might not be the right fit. 

If you won a million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with the money?

How you handle a million dollars says a lot about your character and shows you whether their values are in line with your company values. Do they mention investment, invention, or contribution in any way? Would they use it all to self-serve? Do they mention goals or ambitions they have? There is really no right or wrong answer here, but it does give you a glimpse into what they truly value most. 

If you could open your own business, what would it be and why?

This question shows the entrepreneurial spirit of the candidate and how proactive they may be. You might be surprised to learn that the candidate may have started a business in the past, or currently has a side hustle. Most Successful team members in our company are entrepreneurs at heart and they want to develop new ideas or new ways of doing things. This is a great trait to have on a team. 

What is one thing YOU believe that most people do not?

This question comes from Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and lead investor in Facebook. He asks every candidate this question to gauge their ability to think independently. He believes the very best employees are the ones who come up with valuable ideas and breakthroughs that no one else will.

How well do you adapt to change?

If we learned nothing else during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was to pivot. Change is inevitable, especially in a startup. Change can be good news with rapid growth, an expanding staff, or new responsibilities. Change can also be difficult and painful with supply chain issues, failed attempts, and closed doors. Because you can’t predict the future, you need a team that is open to evolving with the company and they have the soft skills to handle the constant change. 

What personality traits do you butt heads with? Or what do your friends not like about you?

The answer here often reveals the type of person they won’t get along with. Because you will know the other personalities of existing employees and managers, it may give you some insight into whether or not the candidate across the table will be a good fit. 

These 12 questions can give you great insight into a person. But before you can go and decide whether someone fits in or not, you need to know your company culture. Make sure you have identified your company values and put your culture into words so candidates can know what to expect. Your values and culture represent the deep, ingrained ways in which employees interact with one another during the day. At the end of the interview, put away the list of questions and just talk. Spend the last 10 minutes just getting to know them as a person. No candidate will be perfect, and they don’t need to be. Find someone who has the strengths you’re looking for and the values and principles that match your company vision. 

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