Culture Add Interview Questions to Improve Your Hiring Process

Culture add interview questions can help you make hiring decisions and build a strong company with diversity and commitment to values.

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Culture Add Interview Questions to Improve Your Hiring Process

How can culture add interview questions help you attract the best candidates? They help solve the problem many hiring managers have: a misunderstanding of what makes a person a good fit in their organization’s culture.

It’s no surprise that in 2017, one CareerBuilder survey found that 74% of small business employers admitted to hiring the wrong person for a position. Some reasons they cited include “taking a chance on a nice person” and “focused on skills and not attitude.” This is a prime example of why culture add needs to replace culture fit in the modern workplace.

What is culture add, and how is it different from culture fit?

Around 20 years ago, the concept of “workplace culture” hit the corporate scene. It was a way of establishing the status quo within an office and made its way into hiring practices. But that eventually led to a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes someone a strong asset to a company.

Hiring for culture fit began to be confused with hiring for similar personal backgrounds, interests, or even appearances. That mindset could result in companies full of employees who looked, thought, and acted alike. This often would lead to discrimination and stagnation in company growth and innovation. That’s why “culture add” became the new emphasis in hiring. It takes the concept of cultural fit back to its origins. The term also leans on the value of inclusion and diversity instead of “gut feelings.”

Think of your company as a machine, and every person is a moving part. The overall commitment to the company’s values is what powers your machine. Once that is established, you can apply the concept of culture add for new hires who can make your machine more efficient, productive, and diversely robust.

What is a culture add interview?

A culture add interview provides significant insight into what a candidate brings to the table. This is particularly true regarding a candidate’s potential to add something new, helpful, and diverse to a team. It considers the company’s culture as it relates to its implemented values. In a culture add interview, hiring managers measure a potential employee against how well they will fulfill the responsibilities. They also consider the different ideas an individual can potentially bring to the team.

In a culture add interview, hiring managers measure a potential employee against how well they will fulfill the responsibilities. They also consider the different ideas an individual can potentially bring to the team.

What are culture add interview questions?

Here are some questions hiring managers can ask in a culture add interview.

Describe a time when you helped a coworker or direct report with a work problem.

This assesses how potential job candidates use core values in their approach to problem-solving and management. Not everyone has the same style or strategy.

Describe an occasion at work when you had to do something you disagreed with. How did you handle it?

Most people have some form of direct superior they report to. In that case, there was likely a time when they disagreed but had to follow through anyway. An answer to this question can help gauge conscientiousness and open-mindedness — 2 qualities that may factor into your company values.

Describe a time when you received feedback from a supervisor or someone on another team. How did you react? What was the result? 

Feedback isn’t always easy, especially when it’s negative. How a person handles negative feedback can tell more about their character and work ethic than their pastimes.

What attracted you to this role?

A question like this assesses whether the candidate has done their homework regarding the company’s mission, values, and other info. Many people will say, “it’s my dream job,” or “it pays more than my last position in the field.” Those answers don’t tell you much. You want to hear whether they can see themselves fulfilling the company’s mission and values through the role.

How do you measure success at work? How does a successful day at work look for you? 

Questions like this can filter out people during the hiring process whose ideas of success don’t fit the company culture. Let’s say their measure of success is “highest profits at the highest efficiency.” If your company values “people first and integrity,” that candidate may not be suited well for the community or role.

How would you describe your leadership style?

This question isn’t just important for someone applying for a higher-level position. It’s actually a better indicator of culture fit and culture add than you may think. Yes, it can tell you about their work style as a leader. But it can also assess how they might respond to other people’s leadership in your company.

While diversity in leadership is essential, it’s also critical to weigh what kind of leadership your company needs most. Are there “too many cooks in the kitchen” whose methods clash? Do you need to hire individuals with diverse styles that are more complementary? Talk with current employees to see what kind of leadership they would like to see added to the team.

A team member calls in sick 2 hours before a team presentation is scheduled. What do you do?

If you work in a fast-paced work environment, you want to assess culture fit and culture add as it applies to real-world scenarios. You want to know more than just how they prefer working. This question lets you see how an employee reacts to parameters like strict deadlines. But it also assesses how they handle unexpected high-pressure situations.

What does a healthy work-life balance look like for you?

The healthiest employees with the highest job satisfaction work in the most comfortable ways for them.

Many businesses are currently re-evaluating and implementing plans for in-office, hybrid, or fully remote positions. It’s important to know what work-life balance looks like for a potential hire. It could mean they expect a flexible schedule to spend time with their family as needed. It could also mean they spend 38-40 hours entirely in the office to set boundaries between work and personal time.

The healthiest employees with the highest job satisfaction work in the most comfortable ways for them. That helps them achieve an appropriate work-life balance.

Culture interview questions to ask yourself (as the interviewer)

These are questions you should go over before and after you’ve interviewed a promising candidate. They help determine what exactly you are looking for, why you require that, and how a person can fulfill that need.

  • What gaps in our company’s knowledge or culture can this candidate fill?
  • Does the candidate have skills in new processes or techniques that we would benefit from having?
  • Could this employee challenge our way of thinking and suggest improvements to our processes?
  • Does this candidate represent a voice or viewpoint for our customers that we lack? Would they help us better communicate with potential customers by having this voice or perspective?

Use culture add interview questions to maximize your hiring potential

Hiring can be a time-consuming and grueling process, especially when the position is critical for your company’s success. To add value and clarity to the process, use culture add interview questions. Then, you can start hiring the right people and see your company grow.

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