How to Determine a Candidate’s Cultural Fit in an Interview

by Aaron Mills on August 11, 2015 in Candidate Interviewing, Candidate Selection

Determine a Candidate's Cultural Fit

In recent years, there has been a noticeable struggle to fill direct hire IT positions. As the market experiences a polar shift, the demand for qualified IT professionals has increased beyond the talent supply. Fierce competition has arisen from that talent scarcity and has split most employers into one of two groups: those who move fast but overlook cultural fit and those who linger on culture without filling positions.

The problem is that both tactics are counterproductive. Filling job openings with incompatible employees leads to high conflict and employee turnover. Waiting for almost mythic, idealized candidates leads to a large loss in productivity and revenue. Yet there are ways to quickly identify a direct hire’s cultural fit without wasting time. Best of all, most of it can be done during the interview.

1.) Measure a Candidate’s Behavior & Working Style

The way a candidate has worked and prefers to work on the job is a considerable indicator of their cultural compatibility. Answers to certain common behavioral questions explore a candidate’s ideal work atmosphere, team structure, problem-solving tactics, and communication approach. In lieu of first-hand observations, this is one of the best ways to determine a candidate’s cultural fit.

The questions themselves are not groundbreaking, but they need to be kept in consideration as you work to speed up the direct hire assessment and onboarding process. For example, businesses asking questions similar to these already are gauging cultural compatibility:

“Why do you want to work here?”

“What was your best team experience?”

“How do you tackle new challenges?”

“What do you do when you feel you are overloaded at work?”

“Tell me about a time you worked on a team and experienced a negative outcome?”

All of those cumulative responses will help you decide whether the candidate will be able to acclimate to your office structure or if they would be better suited somewhere else. What’s another way to ask these behavioral questions to prospective direct hires early? Use your IT staffing partner to eliminate candidates who don’t fit your desired criteria in advance.

2.) Bring in Your Team

Using your most engaged employees, those tops performers who live out your culture every day, are a great way to help you screen out incompatible candidates. Encouraging interaction between both sides can predict whether a candidate will mesh with or alienate your existing team.

Both structured and unstructured interactions can be beneficial. For instance, calling in your employees during the interview or towards the end to ask their own questions can provide additional perspectives and help catch warning signs you may have missed. On the other hand, taking everyone out to lunch can build rapport and determine whether your interviewee can maintain a level of professionalism in less regimented situations.

3.) Evaluate What They Ask

Asking questions is the bare minimum a candidate can do in an interview. Comprehension, continued interest, and an analytical ability to build on existing information are all demonstrated by a person’s inquisitive responses. However, the content and direction of a candidate’s line of questioning can hint at whether that candidate will be a strong cultural fit or not.

Not surprisingly, the most revealing questions are about your company culture. They reflect what values and conditions matter most to the candidate. So when a candidate asks you one, read between the lines.

“How do you evaluate performance?” indicates that the person desires clear procedures and guidance to improve. “What do you enjoy working about here?” indicates that the person not only wants to be satisfied on the job, but work with people who enjoy what they’re doing. Deciphering the underlying message behind each question can clear up the candidate pool considerably.

Another way to evaluate what candidates want to know about you can be to ask your IT staffing partner. They keep track of direct hire candidate’s questions and concerns, which can give insight into that person before you even meet.

Narrowing Down the Cultural Fit Further

One equally successful way to ensure your hire only the best, culturally-aligned IT professionals is to work with an IT staffing partner. We go the extra mile and screen talent for a strong cultural fit before we send anyone over. Reach out to EdgeLink to hire a cultural fit who gets results.