During the interview process, it’s important to ask questions that will not only lead you to learn more about a candidate’s leadership abilities and business insight but also their cultural fit; here are five cultural fit interview questions to help you gauge how well an executive will fit into your organization’s unique culture.
Tell me about the best supervisor you ever had. Why did you like him or her?
This question is important because it reveals the leadership qualities that the candidate admires, respects and likely tries to emulate. Make note of these qualities and determine whether this leadership style will mesh with your corporate values and culture.
Explain how you got to this point in your career. What major career moves have you made and why?
The candidate’s answer will show how he/she uses strategic thinking to accomplish their goals. Perhaps he has quickly climbed the corporate ladder by taking every opportunity to learn something new and move to a new position at a new company. This could show a willingness to learn and make smart, aggressive moves, but it may also show a lack of loyalty. Or maybe the candidate has slowly worked his way up in the same company he’s been with since college but now he’s tapped out and looking for a new opportunity. This shows loyalty and longevity, but maybe he’s less aggressive and slower to pull the trigger on a good opportunity. Which qualities are most important to your company and which will nurture your workplace environment?
If you were starting your own company, what would you establish as your top three corporate values?
The goal here is to gain insight into a candidate’s priorities as well as his personal and professional values. Consider whether his answers are similar to your company’s values. If not, could those values bring something fresh and positive to your company culture or would it be a complete contradiction?
What do you think are the major opportunities and threats facing our company and how would you approach them?
By asking this type of question, you should get a sense of a candidate’s depth of understanding of your organization. Their response will reveal how much research they have done on your organization, as well as their problem-solving abilities. Are the threats mentioned in line with the concerns of your C-suite or are they seeing something completely different? What about how their proposed response to those threats? It’s important to understand how a candidate would handle industry challenges and whether or not their methodology will mesh with the way your current C-suite handles issues. Discord at the top trickles down to affect all employees.
Tell me about the last three people you interacted with before walking in this building. What adjective would each of them give me to describe you?
This is an interesting question that catches candidates off guard, shows their ability to think on their feet and reveals their self-awareness. Perhaps the last person he talked to was the barista who got his order wrong. Does he say he politely asked for his correct order? Does he roll his eyes and make a condescending comment about how hard it is to get a simple coffee order right? While it’s certainly possible for a candidate to be untruthful, his answers will still provide an interesting insight into the way he thinks of himself and how he perceives others think of him as well. Consider whether or not the adjectives he lists are qualities that would support the positive company culture you have built.
There are many important aspects to consider when hiring a new corporate executive, but don’t neglect cultural fit. Remember, workforce culture starts at the top, so take the time to thoroughly vet your candidates to make sure they are the right match for your workplace environment.