Interview Questions That Help You Assess Cultural Fit

One of the most important aspects of your liking a job is your cultural fit at the organization. What does that mean exactly? On a larger scale, a company’s culture centers on its values and ethos. For instance, what does it prioritize? What is its mission? Ideally, employees and their workplaces should share similar objectives. 

But there are other elements of company culture that make a difference in an employee’s day-to-day experience. Harvard Business Review says some employees prefer more independence, while others like interdependence or a sliding scale between the two. 

Other aspects of company culture include the level of formality and hierarchical versus flatter organizational structures. Some companies also offer employees more flexibility in their work schedules than others.

Few aspects of company culture are good or bad; instead, job seekers need to be aware of their own values and work preferences so they can find positions that suit them. 

Unfortunately, many job seekers don’t know what they’re looking for or how to assess fit. A recent report found that 73% of professionals had quit jobs because of company culture, and 82% disliked jobs because of poor cultural fit.

Once you know what you’re looking for, however, how can you make sure the organization fits what you’re seeking before taking the job? 

During your interview, ask the following three questions to assess cultural fit: 

1. Ask cultural fit questions in the second round of the interview, not the first round or when you’re offered the job. 

You don’t want to start off on the wrong foot by discussing your preferred working conditions in the first round of interviews. Instead, use this interview to build rapport with the hiring manager and make sure you actually want the job. If you advance to the second round and decide you’re still interested in the position, you can ask more questions about cultural fit. 

However, don’t wait until you’re offered the job to ask this type of question. If you’re only assessing whether you’d actually want to work somewhere after you’re offered the job, you may end up making a less-than-ideal first impression with your boss. 

2. Ask questions about the company’s day-to-day operations. 

Once you make it to the second round of interviews, you can start asking questions to make sure you’d actually be happy working there. Some questions that you might consider asking include the following: 

  • What is your policy on remote work? 
  • Do most employees work remotely or is an in-office schedule preferred? 
  • How flexible do you consider yourself when it comes to designing a work schedule? 

You also may want to ask questions about the company’s values, like these: 

  • Is risk-taking rewarded here?
  • Do you ask for opinions from employees about projects and work environments? 
  • Would you describe your organization as traditional or innovative? 
  • How do you develop employees who work here and support their careers? 
  • What is your favorite thing about working here? 

3. Ask whether you can interview a potential future colleague. 

You may feel uncomfortable asking some of these questions to senior-level employees or your potential supervisor. Instead, ask for a peer interview with someone who would be working at your level at the company. You would likely feel more comfortable inquiring about employee satisfaction, organizational hierarchy, and formality. 

Connecting With Career Moves to Find Your Ideal Cultural Fit 

It can be daunting to identify what type of culture you want in your next job. But like many others, you may find yourself dissatisfied working for a company that doesn’t operate the way you do. A consultation with Paul Wigglesworth, CPA, can help. With more than 20 years of helping accounting and finance professionals find new jobs, he can help you figure out what matters to you and direct you toward companies that will be a strong match.