How to hire employees for the
best Cultural Fit 

Two businesspeople are interviewing for a cultural fit. Man on the left is grinning happily from behind a laptop, woman on the right has her hand over her head and looks to be breaking out with laughter. Image by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova

7 minute read

What is this elusive Cultural Fit?

When you’re on the hunt for a new hire, you’re asking yourself two questions: 

‘Can they do the job?’ and ‘Are they a good fit?’ 

The first question is relatively easy to determine – it’s looking at whether the candidate is a functional fit – do they have the necessary hard skills i.e. credentials, experience and core competencies? 

The second question is a matter of cultural fit, which is a lot more difficult to figure out. To determine whether a candidate will have a positive experience in the business, it’s useful to start out with a definition of the company’s culture. 

Company Culture – the values and beliefs that underpin the behaviours of a company and its employees both within and outside the business. 

Why Cultural Fit matters

Employees who share the company culture and values are proven to:

  • Have greater job satisfaction
  • Remain within the business 
  • Perform better in the role 

Cultural fit isn’t just the fortunate bonus of a great hire; it’s what makes a candidate right for the job. 

For every bad fit hired, you can look forward to an increase in employee turnover (see how much this is costing) and a dilution of the intended company culture. The further you dilute the culture, the harder it will be for the right employees to recognise and align with the true values of the business. 

In fact, only 2 in 10 surveyed employees strongly agree that they feel connected to their organisation’s culture. 

Company Culture Clash v.s. Culture Growth

Many definitions of a cultural fit hinge on the employee’s ability to fit in or conform to the company culture. However, companies who want to evolve recognise that culture is co-created by both the business and its employees, resulting in mutual growth. 

For this to work, both the hiring candidate and the company must be open to new perspectives and modes of operating. 

Hiring managers looking to advance their culture will need to distinguish between candidates who will be a: 

  • Culture clash – would dissolve their own culture by bending to that of the company, or would disrupt the values of the company 
  • Culture addition – aligns with the company on key issues but brings a fresh & valuable point of view that disrupts homogeneity & prevents an echo chamber 

Making this distinction isn’t always going to be a simple cut-and-dry test, but dealing with the grey areas will be a lot easier if, prior to interviewing, you go through the company’s cultural aspects to identify the hard values & areas for variance. 

Hard Values

The non-negotiable core values of the company. 

Any candidate who didn’t align with these values would be unsuitable.

E.g. an avid hunter would rarely fit well into an animal rights charity. 

Areas for Variance

The opinions of the company. 

Candidates who don’t align here could still be a good fit & provide new insights. 

E.g. a candidate and a company might rate worldwide environmental and economic issues at different priority levels, but the fact that both parties place enough emphasis on each matter makes them compatible – and can lead to healthy discussions. 

When interviewing candidates, hiring managers should not only identify whether the candidate will fit in with the company’s hard values, but also whether the company will fit with the hard values of the candidate. 

Avoiding Personal Biases when interviewing for a Cultural Fit

Definining these aspects of your company culture and designing interview questions around them will also help hiring managers to avoid letting their personal biases influence decision-making. 

Oftentimes recruiters are known to use standards of likeability to test cultural fit – whether that be subconsciously – as in the case of homophily (being naturally drawn to others like yourself)  – or consciously – as in the case of the infamous airport test (would you be comfortable getting stuck in an airport with this candidate?).

20 Interview Questions that test Cultural Fit

These questions will test the compatibility of your candidate and company’s cultures; and identify opportunities for mutual growth.

  1. What’s the biggest problem with most workplaces today? 
  2. What are your core values? 
  3. What are you passionate about? 
  4. Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
  5. What qualities in a company are most important to you? 
  6. What did you like most about your last company? 
  7. What did you like least about your last company?
  8. What do our company values mean to you? 
  9. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 
  10. How would you describe a healthy work-life balance? 
  11. What do you like doing when you’re not at work?
  12. What type of work do you like to do alone/collaboratively? 
  13. How do you best like to receive feedback? 
  14. How do you communicate with someone when they disagree with you? 
  15. Describe a time in the last year when you changed your mind about something. 
  16. How do you deal with stress at work? 
  17. What type of support helps you to do your best work? 
  18. How would you describe your ideal manager? 
  19. Describe a time when you taught one of your colleagues a valuable way of looking at things. 
  20. How would you advise us to improve our company culture/values?

That’s it for Cultural Fit. Want more content on employee engagement? Check out our other blog posts.


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