Interviewing for Character and Culture Fit

Probing Beyond the Hard Skills

I want to share this list of insightful interview questions, adapted slightly from those used by a client[1]. Try asking some of these in your interviews to assess the culture impact of your potential hires:

  1. Describe a skill you feel you are missing.

Can the candidate properly assess himself/herself?  Humble enough to see where a skill is missing?  Desire to learn new skills? Hunger to be better?
Looking for: HUMILITY; SELF-AWARENESS; DESIRE TO IMPROVE; HUNGER

  1. Describe a situation where you had to admit to others that you had made a mistake. How did you handle the situation?

Does the candidate have the humility and integrity to admit mistakes and apologize? Have the people skills to effectively verbalize the admission of mistakes to others? Care enough about the team to be honest for the benefit of the team?
Looking for:  HUMILITY; INTEGRITY; PEOPLE-SMARTS; TEAM; CARING ABOUT PEOPLE

  1. Describe the dynamics of the best team you have been a part of.

Is there humility to put team above self? Indications of caring about fellow team members? A passion regarding team performance; a shared team standard of excellence; results better together than apart? Examples of team innovation?
Looking for: TEAM; HUMILITY; CARING ABOUT PEOPLE; EXCELLENCE; INNOVATION

  1. We all have people that we don’t hate but dislike. Why did/do you dislike a former/current co-worker and how have you dealt with him/her?

Can they explain the dynamics without disparaging the person? Do so in a professional way? Do so while protecting the other person’s reputation? Express empathy or understanding about someone they do not like? 
Looking for: PEOPLE-SMARTS; INTEGRITY; CARING ABOUT PEOPLE

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to make a big adjustment in order to succeed.

Is this person able to be flexible? Innovate or find creative solutions? Have a hunger for excellence that will not be derailed by obstacles?
Looking for:  FLEXIBILITY; INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY; EXCELLENCE; HUNGER

  1. What is a misconception that people may have about you?

How realistic is the candidate’s self-perception? Humble or selfish as they express the misconception? Mature/immature in what they express? Care about how the misconception affects their team or others? Express their concerns about this misconception in a socially appropriate way?
Looking for: SELF-AWARENESS; HUMILITY; CARING ABOUT PEOPLE; PEOPLE-SMARTS; TEAM

  1. Describe the boss who would get the very best from you.

Is the candidate aware of what helps them succeed? Express their relationship with the boss in the context of team? Examples of humility in describing the best boss? Want a boss who holds to high standards vs. coddling them?
Looking for: SELF-AWARENESS; TEAM; HUNGER; HUMILITY; EXCELLENCE

  1. What are you most passionate about?

What gets this person excited? Animated? Truly hungry about? Examples of caring about other people as more important than self? Service-oriented traits? Passion to do something really well? Passion for self-improvement?
Looking for:  PASSION IN GENERAL; CARING ABOUT PEOPLE; EXCELLENCE; HUNGER


[1] Courtesy of Action Property Management
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Trust and/or Transparency

A Paradoxical Relationship

Transparency is often touted as foundational to building trust.  And it can be – or not…

We live in a culture that equates our desire to know something with our right to know it.  We feel entitled to tap into the endless free-flow of information, believing that anyone who holds anything back is hiding something and can’t be trusted.  Except, of course, that we choose to keep some things private and we can be trusted. Continue reading Trust and/or Transparency

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Building a high level of trust within an organization can seem like the search for the Holy Grail: It’s highly valued, but very elusive.

Some of us believe that trust must be earned. We’re not willing to accept the risk of betrayed trust. Some of us grant trust more freely until we have reason to withhold it. We recognize that people give their best when we expect the best out of them. Most of us start off relationships somewhere between extreme trust and extreme lack of trust.

We Don’t Need Trust Where There Is No Risk

Continue reading Sources of (Dis)Trust

Success From the Start

Leveraging Your Personal Values

Andrew CROPOur guest blogger, Andrew, is currently serving as an intern at enLumen Leadership Services.  Andrew wrote this article about his older brother, Timothy, who continually inspires Andrew toward excellence as he pursues his career in the music industry.

Timothy was nineteen when he landed the job in Community Care, a public relations branch at Action Property Management Company. Typical kid, typical entry-level job. What set Timothy apart were the values behind his work ethic. Timothy is the sort of person who will not rest until he has done the best, most efficient job possible. From day one, he demonstrated this through his tireless pursuit of excellence at Action. Continue reading Success From the Start