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7 Ways To Determine Candidate Culture Fit (Besides Interview Assessments)

Evaluating candidates the right way


  • Assess fit through passion videos, office visits, values evaluation, and more.

  • Focus on "culture add" instead of "culture fit" for diverse and strong teams.

  • Uncover true colors with rejection and use the airport test for evaluation.

Finding the right cultural fit is crucial for a successful hire, and our hiring leaders have shared their top strategies to help you achieve this. From assessing fit with passion videos to organizing meet-and-greets for interaction insights, discover 7 innovative methods provided by experts, such as people and culture directors and HR leaders, to evaluate potential employees beyond traditional interviews.

  • Assessing Fit with Passion Videos

  • Focus On "Culture Add" Instead

  • Reveal True Colors With Rejection

  • Apply the Airport Test

  • Structure Activities for Cultural Assessment

  • Examine Candidates' Online Presence

  • Use Behavioral-Based Interview Questions

Assessing Fit with Passion Videos

One method we have used in the past to gauge cultural fit in candidates is soliciting a short, one-minute video of them talking about a topic they are passionate about. 

We have many client-facing roles, so seeing applicants at peak enthusiasm is a good indicator of how they will be when leading a team-building event or sales call. 

Also, seeing what they are interested in outside of work shows well who they are as human beings and how they might fit in with their colleagues.

Grace He, People and Culture Director,

Focus on "Culture Add" Instead

One of the biggest mistakes we made at tech companies over the last decade was trying to hire for "culture fit." For over 8 years, I worked at tech companies that were obsessed with this idea of culture fit. It was not until working at LinkedIn that I realized how detrimental this strategy was. What we found at LinkedIn was that organizations that focused on culture fit ended up creating homogenous teams where everyone agreed with each other. 

Everyone literally "fit in" and team performance suffered. What we looked for at LinkedIn instead was a "culture add." Instead of asking, "How well will this person fit in with the team?" we were asking, "What new perspective will this person bring to the team?" 

As a result, the teams we were creating kept getting stronger and more diverse. Luckily, other organizations are taking notice and changing their hiring strategies as well. Hopefully, the future will be one where we celebrate those who are a "culture add."

Bogdan Zlatkov, Lead Instructor for HR and Hiring, Growth Hack Your Career

Reveal True Colors with Rejection

My favorite question to ask in an interview is, "What would you say to me right now if I called to tell you we have gone with a different candidate?" We have heard candidates attempt to rip apart the "chosen candidate" to build themselves up despite even knowing the person. RED FLAG. 

We have also seen candidates gracefully and elegantly "accept" the decision, ask for growth feedback, and then elevator pitch themselves once more in 30 seconds. We hire that second candidate every time. Understanding the driving character traits and behaviors you want on your team is crucial. 

Never hire for skill, and never hire for the personality someone tells you they have. There is so much digital and social content teaching candidates how to answer questions many people can fake their way through personality assessments and in-person interviews. I have yet to find someone who can fake their way through the ability to hide their true colors when faced with rejection.

Brittany Ethridge, Director of Talent Acquisition, Mosaic

Apply the Airport Test

Outside of skill sets regarding role-specific related qualifications, hiring managers assess candidates based on 3 answers to these questions: 

1) Do I like you? 

2) Do I want to work with you?

3) Do I think you can do the job? 

This essentially leads to the airport test, which is a question we ask ourselves, “Would I want to be stuck in an airport with this person?” Similar to having a rough day at work, bad company-wide news presented, a project failure, etc.—how do I perceive this person reacting? 

Typically, fitting in with a team culture requires the utilization of soft skills (communication, self-awareness, demeanor in a situation, adaptability, etc.), all of which are traits that could be applied to being stuck in an airport. How the candidate comes across in the interview presenting themselves is all indicative of how the hiring manager would answer the airport test question.

Megan Dias, Career Services Coach, Parsity

Structure Activities for Cultural Assessment

A key factor in determining cultural fit, other than personality assessments and interviews, is to evaluate a candidate's values and behaviors and assess how well they align with the organization's values. This can be done through a structured activity like a group discussion, role play, or an inbox exercise. 

It can also be done informally, such as at a networking event or conference. Simulated activities provide an excellent opportunity to assess the candidate's fitment to the organization's culture and allow recruiters to observe and evaluate a candidate's response to various cultural aspects of the company. 

Such activities can provide valuable insights into their behavioral patterns and how well they align with the organization's values. Reference checks from previous employers can provide information about cultural alignment and help recruiters make informed hiring decisions.

Uravi Raichandani, Domain Expert (Assessor and Coach), Naman HR

Examine Candidates' Online Presence

I find it best to look at who they are in their online presence. Visiting their LinkedIn page to get a feel for who they are, what they find interesting, and if they are active on professional social media. 

This gives you insight into their interests and helps you with some questions you ask that pertain to the role. Besides the standard "Why do you want to work for XYZ company?" question can be rephrased as "I see you have a lot of interest in DEI based on your experience, tell me more about XYZ".

Charles Mangino, Head of People, Culture and DEI, Decusoft

Use Behavioral-based Interview Questions

One practice I find very effective in assessing culture fit is using behavioral-based interview questions (BBI) that are based on your company's core values. Behavioral-based interview questions assess a candidate's actions and reactions in a given professional setting or situation. 

For example, a company that places a high value on a sense of urgency should include BBI questions related to that core value. Based on the candidate's response, hiring managers gain insight into whether the candidate is a cultural fit.

Brittney Simpson, HR Operations Manager, Walker Miller Energy Services

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