How To Tell If A Candidate Is A Good Culture Fit

Blogpost by Bejan Douraghy.  He is the founder of Artisan Talent, an award winning staffing agency that has been inspiring better lives and matching talent since 1988, with offices in Chicago, New York City, Indianapolis, Washington D.C., Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

There has been much emphasis on making sure employees are a perfect “fit” with your company’s culture lately, and for a good reason. Culture fit is that important. Company culture is the true heart of a business. If an employee doesn’t mesh with the values and atmosphere of your company, they won’t be a successful fit. After all, interactions between employees have a huge effect on productivity.


Artisan has interviewed countless candidates and business owners over the years, and they all agree finding a new employee who meshes with their company culture is just as important as finding someone with the right skills for the position. Culture eats strategy every time!

How Do You Hire for Culture Fit?

So how do you know if someone will fit in with your culture? Ask the right questions! The interview is the perfect time to find a potential new hire’s ideal workplace culture. Here are some great question ideas for determining culture fit in an interview in

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


Other Ways to Determine Employee Happiness

Aside from the interview, how determine a potential employee would be a good fit for your culture? Try these three simple things.

1. Make Your Mission More Visible

Take a look at your current online profiles by Googling yourself. See if the results allow job applicants able to understand your company’s core values from researching you online. Make sure your web site and online social platforms (Glassdoor, Linked In, Yelp, etc.) are filled out and up to date. Potential candidates should be able to discover if they can imagine themselves working there. You’ll want online researchers to be able to answer most of these questions.

  • How many offices do they have?
  • What ties to the community do they have?
  • Do they donate to charity?
  • What causes do they believe in or support?
  • 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 goes a long way in allowing applicants to get a feel for a potential new employer. 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

Encourage senior management to include representation from the teams who will actually work with the new employee during their interview. It will empower current employees and help 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 helps encourage employee harmony day one.

3. Trust Your Gut

The best interviews provide a chance to 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. A “gut check” should not take the place of a methodical interview process, but make sure to put value in the way a potential new hire makes you feel.

Intuition can be a powerful tool.

4. Last But Not Least

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

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.

Remember: culture eats strategy every time!