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8 Interview Questions to Help You Hire For Cultural Fit

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Alexandra Hayes – HR Specialist with SuperiorPapers.com. Her opinions are her own. 

Is cultural fit just a buzzword? Can’t you just hire the most qualified person from the list of candidates and be done with it?

Let’s clarify one thing right from the start: it’s not just a buzzword. When making a hiring decision, you want the person’s values and goals to be aligned with the company’s mission. If, for example, your brand is all about eliminating plastic for the sake of environmental preservation, you’ll want to hire someone who is ready to act towards that goal.

Hiring a great cultural fit is even more important when recruiting into the marketing team. This person is going to be responsible for conveying the brand’s values through the campaign. If their character doesn’t fit into the company’s culture, it won’t be pretty.

The job application only gives you a sense of the candidate’s cultural fit. This is a hard thing to evaluate through the resume itself, but the cover letter does help. Still, you don’t know much about the person’s character before you come in direct contact with them. That’s why you conduct interviews. That’s why you should ask focused questions with a precise aim in mind: to hire a great cultural fit.

These 11 questions will help you hire the right person in your team.

1. If I asked your referee about your weaknesses, what do you think they would say?

Candidates like to brag with their references. If they included a letter of recommendation in the application, it’s probably based on praise. Revealing the candidate’s weaknesses is important, since they tell you how the office community would perceive them.

This question is great because it demands honesty. Some candidates will panic, and others will say they don’t know. Some will express some weaknesses, which are directly related to the job role they are trying to get. These could all be warning signs, saying this person is not a good cultural fit.

If you get a truly honest response and you like it, this might be the right addition to your marketing team.

2. What would be the name of your autobiography?

If you asked this question to someone who’s applying for a position in accounting, it would be hard for them to answer. But if you’re hiring a person for your marketing team, they shouldn’t be intimidated by questions that demand some creativity.

This question is good because it sparks conversation. It encourages the person to reveal something personal. Plus, it prompts them to think of a creative headline right away, so you can evaluate their marketing skills in addition to the cultural fit.

3. What do you find annoying in a team?

Team members all come up with ideas, which will inevitably clash at one point or another. This question lets you evaluate how this person would act in such a situation. Can they be nice to other people?

If someone exposes a big list of things they find annoying about their peers, you’re clearly dealing with an egocentric character. If this person starts talking trash about their previous (or current) collaborators, this might as well be the last question you ask before letting them go their way.

Everyone gets annoyed by other people. Some people, however, can handle these stimuli with a bit more class. That’s the kind of person you want to hire.

4. Tell me about your hobbies

This is a question you may want to restrict to marketing (or more creative) hires. You can hire the most qualified marketing expert in the world, but they won’t be a good cultural fit if their hobbies have nothing to do with the brand’s vibe.

If, for example, you produce healthy organic foods, you want to hire people who like exercising and eating healthy. You might think that’s not important, but understanding the audience is the only way for a marketing team to perform well.

If you reflect the culture of your target audience in the people you hire, the marketing team will be speaking the language of the buyer. Their cultures will match, and you’ll have a winning marketing campaign.

5. Describe a situation when you weren’t able to meet a deadline

You understand how important deadlines are, but you also realise that everyone has had issues with them at one point or another. Sometimes you have to rely on third parties, and some of them can often mess things up. What will this person do in such situation? Better yet; what have they done in such a situation?

You want someone who relies on teamwork to solve these issues. You want someone who can remain calm, so they won’t stress everyone out.

6. What motivates you to do your job well?

It’s not just about the salary. You want a person who’s inspired to show up to work and give their best because they can find another source of motivation.

Through the answer you get, you’ll figure out whether or not your company has the needed resources to motivate this person. That’s a good indicator of a relevant culture fit. If you realize that the candidate’s motivations are hard to meet, then you can rest assured that they won’t be happy in the working environment you’re ready to offer.

7. Describe your ideal work environment

Everyone has a different version of the ideal work environment. It’s based on personal preferences. That’s why some people love working for Google, and others find its offices disturbing. The answer to this question will tell you how well this candidate’s impression of a good working environment correlates with the real situation in your offices.

If this person says they like to work alone and you’re trying to build a collaborative and busy office culture, they won’t be a good fit.

8. When have you faced a situation when you and your team leader had opposing views?

Conflicts are a common occurrence in any team. The team leader must find a balance, but it’s hard to keep everyone satisfied. The team members have to realise that they are only providing ideas, which may or may not be implemented in any final decisions.

You want a person who is able to overcome criticism. The answer will tell you if you’re on the right track to hiring such an employee.

Alexandra Hayes

Alexandra Hayes is a HR specialist for SuperiorPapers.com as well as a creative writer. She enjoys visual arts and yoga. Alexandra is also starting out as photographer. Meet her on Twitter!

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