How to Tell if a Candidate Will Be a Good Culture Fit

Passion December 28, 2016

How to Tell if a Candidate Will Be a Good Culture Fit

Bejan Douraghy
Bejan founded Artisan Talent in 1988 with only a great idea and $1,000 in his pocket. Now he’s proud to say that Artisan has been inspiring better lives and matching talent with the perfect jobs and clients not only in Chicago, but also in New York City, Indianapolis, Washington D.C., Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Why has there been so much emphasis on making sure employees are a perfect “fit” with your company’s culture lately? Why would you want a new employee to agree with your company’s mission and purpose? Because culture fit is that important. If an employee doesn’t mesh with the “why” of your business, they won’t be a successful match.

Company culture is the true heart of a business, and the interactions between employees have a huge effect on the productivity and outcomes of a company as a whole. Artisan has interviewed countless candidates and business owners over the years, and they all agree that finding a new employee who blends with company culture is just as important as finding a candidate with the right skill mix for the job.

Fitting into an existing workplace culture is incredibly important. Interacting with supervisors and coworkers and dealing with office politics strongly affects employee happiness on the job and if a new hire doesn’t fit within the framework of the company’s purpose, they will likely be unhappy in the role. If you can glean from the interview process a sense of what kind of corporate culture a potential employee would be happiest joining, then you’ll have a much better shot at making the correct new hire work out long term.

Office LifeHow do you hire for “culture fit?” By asking the right questions.

The interview is the perfect time to probe a potential hire’s ideal workplace culture. came up with some great ideas of open-ended questions for determining culture fit in an interview.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • What kind of management style will bring out your best work?
  • How would coworkers describe your work style?
  • What are your expectations of your management team?
  • Describe a time when you went out of your way to impress a customer.
  • What were the most positive cultural elements at your last job?
  • What kind of work environment would make you unhappy?

Three other ways to determine potential employee happiness

Outside of the job interview, how can you make sure a talent is a good fit for your culture? Measure their potential happiness as an employee by doing these three things.

1. Make Your Mission More Visible

WorkplaceAre job applicants able to get the gist of your company’s core values from researching you online? By making sure your web site and online social platforms (like Glassdoor, Linked In, Yelp, etc.) are filled out and up to date, potential candidates are able to discover if they can imagine themselves working there.
Take a look at your current online profiles by Googling yourself. Take a look at the information available and see if you can answer the following questions:

  • Does this company donate to charity?
  • What causes do they believe in and/or support?
  • How many offices do they have? Do they all have the same environment?
  • What ties does the company have to the community in which they reside?
  • Does the company have outings or get-togethers for holidays?
  • What welcome efforts do they extend to new hires?
  • Do people seem happy working here?

Insight into how current employees feel about the company they are working for go a long way in allowing applicants to get an initial feel for a business they want to apply for. Having the answers to the questions above online and easy to find also allows interested potential applicants to self-select themselves out of the hiring process. If a potential employee really needs a company with tangible office “benefits” like free dry cleaning and you pride yourself on donating to charity instead, it wasn’t meant to be.

2. Engage Current Employees in the Interview Process

CultureAs part of the standard corporate interview process, we encourage senior management to include representation from the teams who will actually work with the new employee. It empowers current employees by letting them know how much you value their opinion, and it also helps ensure the last candidate standing will have a better chance of fitting in. Knowing a new hire will like the team they are working with goes a long way to promoting employee harmony on day one.

Peer-to-peer interviewing has become more and more popular as of late, and it allows candidates to meet the team they’ll be joining. It gives candidates a chance to get a better sense of what the role entails and allows current team members to feel valued by having a say in the hiring process.

3. When It Comes to Culture Fit: Trust Your Gut

ComputerThe best interviews provide a sneak peek into your day-to-day business operations and allow a candidate’s personality and skills to shine. It’s important to feel the “vibe” of the interview by noticing things like body language and attitude. Afterwards, make sure to put value in the way a potential new hire makes you feel.

Intuition can be a powerful tool. A “gut check” obviously should not take the place of a methodical interview process, but it should play a role.

The Bottom Line

At its core, cultural fit means an employee’s beliefs and behaviors match with the employer’s company culture and core values. Hiring isn’t an exact science, but you should consider the “whole picture” of a potential hire before offering that contract.

Interview carefully, use an online personality assessment tool (like  and make sure the goals of your company run parallel to the goals of your next employee. You can teach someone to do a job, but you can’t teach them to love the way you operate.

Remember: culture eats strategy every time!