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February 21, 2024

Culture Fit interview questions: how to ask and why they matter

John Kim
Co-founder @ Paraform

When it comes to hiring a new employee, assessing their cultural fit is just as important as evaluating their qualifications and how much experience they have. Research has shown that 73% of employees have left a job due to being a bad culture fit. But how can you ensure you’re hiring the right person, culturally, for your company?

It all starts with asking the right questions to figure out exactly who the person is, their communication style, what environment they thrive in, and how they collaborate with other people. You can find out plenty about someone by asking them certain open-ended questions. The power of words!

Let’s break it down.

What is a cultural fit?

A cultural fit for an organization refers to the alignment of a person’s values, beliefs, and behaviors with those of a company's brand, vision, and day-to-day operations. In other words, it’s someone who fits right in with a company, gets along really well with their coworkers, is open to feedback, knows the tone of voice of the office, and is someone who’d be able to represent your company.

How do you know if someone is not a good fit?

While all those mentioned previously highlight a great cultural fit, here are a few scenarios of an incompatible fit:

  • An employee who prefers to work alone on projects won’t thrive in a collaborative environment.
  • A leader who seeks command and control instead of collective decision-making will probably not succeed in an environment that requires creativity.
  • A person who only wants to work 8 hours a day will definitely not fit in a recruitment agency (kidding, not kidding).

You get the drift.

How to determine your own cultural fit

If you want to work out what your own culture is at your company, you should start broad and narrow down: Take time to write down what your company's goals and values are as a whole and then see how future employees will match up. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are our goals?
  • How quickly do we want to achieve them?
  • How do we make decisions?
  • What’s our communication like?
  • How do we make decisions?
  • What do we want out of our employees?
  • What can we give them in return?

Once you have an understanding of this, you’ll then be able to find candidates who are potential matches.

The importance of a cultural fit

Company culture is important because it can have a direct impact on many of the business practices and performances including workflow, productivity, employee retention, creativity, and innovation. When employees share the same values and beliefs, they’re more likely to work well together, communicate effectively, and stay at an organization for longer.

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., former CEO of IBM said:

“Until I came to IBM, I probably would have told you that culture was just one among several important elements in any organization's makeup and success — along with vision, strategy, marketing, financials, and the like... I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn't just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.”

And if that isn’t enough, the fact that you’ll be spending a third of your life at work should be enough of a motivator to make your work experience as hassle-free as possible.

Culture fit interview questions

There are many questions to ask a candidate to figure out if they’re a good cultural fit. Here are the best ones:

In the office/at work

  1. Tell me about a time when you faced a challenging situation. How did you handle it, and what did you learn from the experience?
  2. Describe your ideal work environment and company culture. What aspects are most important to you?
  3. How do you handle feedback and constructive criticism?
  4. What motivates you in your work?
  5. What type of culture and environment helps you do your best work?
  6. Can you share an example of a time when you had to adapt to a significant change in the workplace?
  7. What do you value most in a manager or leader?
  8. How do you maintain a work-life balance, and why is it important to you?
  9. Can you describe a time when you took the initiative to improve a process or implement a new idea?
  10. How do you handle disagreements or conflicts within a team or with colleagues?
  11. Describe a situation where you had to make a decision with incomplete information. How did you approach it?
  12. What do you do to stay motivated and engaged during challenging or monotonous tasks?
  13. How do you prioritize tasks and manage your workload effectively?
  14. Describe a situation where you had to quickly learn a new skill or adapt to a new technology. How did you approach the challenge?
  15. Describe a time when you had to adapt to a different organizational culture or work style. How did you navigate the transition?
  16. What strategies do you use to maintain a positive attitude and resilience during challenging times?


  1. Can you share an example of a time when you collaborated effectively with a team to achieve a common goal?
  2. Could you tell me about a time you repaired a damaged working/professional relationship?
  3. What was collaboration (or communication) like at your previous company/team? Dig deep to uncover every detail.
  4. Describe a time when you had to give constructive feedback to a coworker or team member. How did you approach the conversation?
  5. What steps do you take to ensure clear communication and alignment within a team?

When choosing an organization

  1. What do you look for in an organization?
  2. What is one sacrifice you’re willing to take?
  3. What is a non-negotiable for you?
  4. Do you prefer a hybrid or remote environment and why?
  5. Describe what type of company culture would resonate with you.


  1. How would you describe your old company/team/colleagues?
  2. Who is the best {their job title} you know?
  3. Why them?
  4. What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received?


  1. What’s your game plan for the next 10 years?
  2. Is it important to keep climbing the corporate ladder or are you happy to stay with your current job title?


  1. What do your friends like and dislike about you?
  2. What are your favorite hobbies?
  3. What’s the most important thing in your life?
  4. Do you have any heroes?

Although you don’t have to ask a candidate every single one of these questions, it should give you a rough guideline on what to ask. You can always revert to this page if you’re drawing blanks.

Finding the right cultural fit is not about homogeneity; every candidate will have their weakness but it’s about diversity within the alignment. Not everyone will be best friends with their co-workers either, but being motivated, sharing the company’s values, being open to feedback, and helping one another strive toward a common goal is enough to have a long-term winning relationship.

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