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    Cultural fit interview questions to assess organizational fit

    Conducting an interview is probably the best way to get to know your candidate inside out. And if we’re being honest, looking for a candidate who can fit in the company is just as important as finding someone with the relevant skills for the position. These days, it‘s not just about experience or qualifications. You want someone who can fit into your company’s culture as this would improve employee engagement, retention and satisfaction.

    What is culture fit?

    Culture fit is essentially the matching of the employees’ and employers’ values and ideas. This does not mean that everyone in the company has to be identical. In fact, a diverse workforce will reflect a great culture. The key here is to find out how well an individual can work with people in your company. 

    At Workstream, we stress on the importance of cultural fit questions when hiring as it can bring many benefits to your company. For one, employees who can see how well they fit in the company have a higher motivation to work, which impacts their productivity. It also creates a stronger sense of belonging, improving employee engagement and hence, retention rates in your company.

    During the interview

    Create a good impression

    An interview is not just meant for you to judge a candidate’s cultural fit. It also provides an opportunity for the candidate to get a sense of your company’s culture. Thus, everything that you do matters. From greeting the candidate at the beginning to your etiquette during the interview itself—all of these interactions reflect the culture in your company.

    Ask the right interview questions

    To get to know the type of person your candidate is, it’s crucial for you to ask the right questions. Here’s a tip from Lee-Anne Edwards, CEO, and founder of talent matchmaking firm, OneinaMil: ask questions pertaining to how a candidate is like outside of work through hypothetical scenarios. 

    This gives you an idea of their personality, what exactly motivates them and whether it complements your company culture. Don’t fret, we will be going through some of the questions that you may use to draw out the right candidate for your company in the next section.

    Find the right balance

    While hiring for organizational fit is important, it’s not the only aspect that matters. Ultimately, it is about finding the right balance between experience and culture fit. For Lee-Anne, “culture fit wins every time.” That is if she was presented with a non-ideal situation where a candidate has a perfect fit but lacks technical expertise, she will be willing to take them in as a long-term investment. As long as the candidate is coachable and is willing to learn, she thinks that half the battle is already won. 

    Nonetheless, always remember to reach a consensus with your team on the balance all of you would like to have regarding cultural fit and technical expertise prior to the interview.

    Top culture fit interview questions

    To prepare you for the ideal interview, here are the top cultural fit interview questions:

    1. What is your ideal work environment?

    ​​2. Which managerial style do you find most effective?

    3. Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?

    4. What motivates you?

    5. What are your hobbies outside of work?

    6. How heavily do you rely on technology while working?

    7. Share an example of when you went out of your way to please a customer.

    8. What is the biggest challenge you faced in your previous workplace?

    9. What approach do you use for solving issues at work?

    10. Tell me about an incident when you and your team leader had opposing views.

    It’s best if a candidate uses the STAR framework to answer these questions. If they don’t, ask them follow-up questions based on the STAR approach to probe them further in giving more details in their answers. Now let’s dive into each question we’ve shortlisted.

    1. What is your ideal work environment?

    The purpose of this question is self-explanatory and is probably the most effective question to determine an individual’s cultural fit. Based on their reply, you can ascertain whether they will be happy when working in your organization.

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    You want someone who is able to seamlessly fit into the general working style of your company. Based on their answer, determine whether the structure of your company will complement them or tire them out. A few small differences should not be a problem. But, if the incompatibility is too drastic to ignore, consider going with a different candidate.

    For example, look for a candidate who thrives in a fast-paced environment and is constantly seeking to learn. In the QSR industry, hourly employees need to be able to adapt to new technologies—so the candidates that’s always looking for ways to learn will have a better chance of thriving. 

    Also, an exceptional candidate will be able to weave in your company’s vision and mission into their answer as well. Keep your ears open to listen for that.


    2. Which managerial style do you find most effective?

    A manager plays a critical role in an organization, especially in the QSR industry where they’re essential to ensuring that the front-end operations of the restaurant run smoothly. This question is important because it will help you identify whether or not the candidate will be able to work well under your company’s management style. It also allows you to prevent any potential friction between a manager and employee, which can negatively affect the company’s operations.

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    Listen for queues that would tell you whether the candidate would work well under the company’s managerial style. For example, are managers more hands-on, or are employees expected to be independent in their learning? If it’s the latter, you will definitely want to hire someone who can take charge of their own learning without much supervision.


    3. Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?

    This is a very important question as a large element of a company’s culture is how its employees are expected to work. In most QSRS, employees work in an open environment and collaboration with colleagues is frequent. Asking this question lets you know whether the candidate’s preferred working style will empower or hinder their ability to thrive in your organization. 

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    In QSRs, a team member often performs one task that is part of a much bigger process. Each person depends on others on the team to perform their tasks so that the team can collectively accomplish goals. Because of this, having a team-oriented individual is often very important. Look for candidates who prefer a collaborative working style. However, try not to write off those who prefer to work independently. While some do favor working alone, they may still be flexible enough to work well in a team.


    4. What motivates you?

    Needless to say, this question lets you in on what makes an individual tick and is a way to determine whether their motivators will be compatible with their job duties. It also gives you insights into their priorities while on the job.

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    Look for motivators that are in line with your company’s aims and structure. For example, if you are a QSR franchise owner and your company’s aim is to provide a good experience for all of your customers, a candidate who thrives on their passion to serve people is probably the right candidate to hire.


    5. What are your hobbies outside of work?

    As Lee-Anne mentioned, knowing what a person is interested in outside of work gives you insight into their personality and lets you discover the genuine person within. Asking this question will let you gauge the type of person they are, not only in a working environment but outside of it as well. And for all you know, you may even shape their key characteristics into personal brands, making it easier to decide if they really do fit into your company.

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    Listen for the type of activities a candidate engages in. It will give you a clue about how they work in relation to colleagues and how they engage with their tasks. For example, a person who plays on a sports team and regularly trains after work shows they have a commitment to a team. 

    A solid candidate will also be able to showcase how their hobbies gave them an opportunity to develop soft skills and grow as a person. Consider the importance of these skills and whether they are highly valued in your company.


    6. How heavily do you rely on technology while working?

    There’s no doubt that we’re living in an increasingly tech-savvy world. And for industries such as the QSR, processes are becoming more and more automated. To assess whether a candidate is a good fit with the company technologically, you may ask this question to gauge how much they rely on technology to get a job done.

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    Preferably, you want to hire a person who is comfortable with technology. And if they are not, make sure that they have a learner’s mindset and are willing to learn new technological processes that the company may introduce.


    7. Share an example of when you went out of your way to please a customer.

    If your organization is a company that prioritizes customers, you can never go wrong with an employee who puts their customers before anything else. For QSRs, customers are paramount. Asking this question lets you know how far an individual is willing to go to keep their customers happy.

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    Listen for a concrete example that showcases the candidate’s exemplary interaction with a customer. Was their attitude and action in serving the customer aligned with how your company operates? If yes, then it’s safe to say that the candidate will assimilate well into the company.


    8. What is the biggest challenge you faced in your previous workplace?

    By asking this question, you’re able to get an idea of any potential problems that are likely to arise should the candidate work in your organization. You may also have a better understanding of how this applicant deals with challenges in the workplace.

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    A challenge may not necessarily reflect badly on the candidate. Rather, pay attention to how they addressed it. Watch for responses that clearly showcase the actions taken by the candidate to resolve the challenge they faced. Depending on their answer, you’ll be able to gauge their problem-solving skills.


    9. What approach do you use for solving issues at work?

    This question gives you a chance to identify your candidate’s critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Depending on the nature of the industry, certain methods of solving are more efficient than others. Use this question to gauge if the candidate will be able to successfully resolve issues in your company.

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    For positions that are customer-facing with a bustling environment, look for candidates who are able to think on their feet and manage issues proactively. Additionally, take note of the way the candidates resolve their problems. Do they usually implement solutions by themselves or do they consult their peers before taking action? The workplace culture in your company may be more suited to one than the other.


    10. Tell me about an incident when you and your team leader had opposing views.

    Disagreements are a normal occurrence in any team, and each member has a role to play in ensuring it does not escalate into something detrimental for the team. Thus, this last question helps to provide insights on the candidate’s communication and, possibly, conflict-resolution skills. 

    What to look out for in candidates’ responses:

    Watch for an individual who is able to articulate their ideas well to the team and, yet, overcome criticism when they are met with it. 


    Following up after a culture fit interview

    Undoubtedly, humans are subject to bias. And when that bias creeps into your ratings of applicants, you see problems. To help mitigate that, conduct a debriefing meeting to consolidate the cultural assessments of each candidate. This will help remove unconscious bias from the equitation and allow interviewers reach agreement on how each candidate interviewed. 

    During these meetings, you’ll want to cover three essential things: each interviewer’s first impression of the candidates, a review of the responses given and questions asked by the candidate, and a final vote for the top candidate based on the information shared by everyone. An ideal candidate will have the skills needed for the job and will be a cultural fit for your company. However, if you’re not able to find that, make a decision based on who you feel comes the closest and meets the majority of the characteristics your organization is prioritizing.

    Cultural fit is a valuable aspect of a candidate that should never be overlooked. Consider using some of the questions we have listed above and you might just find the perfect hourly employee for your organization. And when perfect candidates are hard to find, establish a balance between their technical expertise and cultural fit. The key takeaway here is to always take cultural fit into consideration as it can bring more advantages to your company than you would expect. 

    At Workstream, we help you manage your backend hiring processes so you can focus on what matters. Our automation and two-way texting technology automatically engages your applicants the moment they apply, smart screens them before you talk to them and allows them to self schedule their interviews—all the things that help them move the pipeline easily, with little to no action from you. To date, we have helped more than 10,000 hiring managers streamline their interview processes.

    If you’re looking for ways to streamline your hiring process, look no further. Book a free demo with our hiring specialists today.

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