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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Hiring for Culture Fit

What You Don’t See Can Hurt You

From the CEO to the low man on the totem pole, every person we hire has some effect on our organizational culture. Obviously, the higher up the ladder, the greater the opportunity for impact. And one lower-tier person has a lot more impact in a ten person organization than in a 10,000 person organization.

We hire because we need a skill or capacity. So our focus tends to drift toward the hard skills the position requires. But according to most surveys, lacking the skills to do the job is not the top reason people leave their jobs – voluntarily or involuntarily. Character and soft skills are usually the culprits. Yet there isn’t one perfect model of character and soft skills that fits every organization.
Continue reading Hiring for Culture Fit