How do I assess Cultural Fit as a candidate?

Published on 12-10-2017

The global workforce is changing and companies have to find new ways to attract and assess candidates. By 2020 almost half of the workforce will be Millennials and that means priorities of candidates change too. Alongside development opportunities, flexible working hours and great benefits, the alignment of the company culture and personal values is of great importance to this generation. But how do I assess Cultural Fit as a candidate?

Lacking technologies to assess Cultural Fit

Even though Cultural Fit is of such great importance to Millennials, technologies to assess Cultural Fit prior to job interviews are still missing in HR circles. This issue extends to both recruiter as well as candidates. Beyond doubt  the company culture is essential for economic success of businesses. In this context however, we would like to slip into the role of the candidates, who are facing the challenge of deciding whether or not to apply for a job with a certain company with little information available. The questions below could help candidates with assessing their Cultural Fit and determine to what extent personal values align with the company culture.

Possible questions to ask yourself or during interviews

Does the company or job description sound like me?

To assess Cultural Fit the first question when preparing for your interview is one you ask yourself. Does this sound like me? As you are researching the company and trying to find as out as much as possible – including employee reviews on Kununu or Glassdoor – keep that question in mind. Does the job description appeal to you and reflect some of your personal traits? If that is the case it will be an indication for being a good match.’
Do not just rely on your own instinct. Ask friends and trusted partners to assess your Cultural Fit with the respective company.

What do you like to do outside of work?

You are going to be spending a lot of time with your colleagues, even outside of normal working hours, at conferences, trade shows, networking events or team events. Therefore it can be helpful to get a sense of what potential colleagues are up to in their down-time to gauge what they are like. Remember job interviews are not only an opportunity for HR managers and other interviewers to get to know you, but also a chance for you to get to know the company and the people who work there. Imagine the majority of your colleagues being married, having kids and living in the suburbs whilst you are single and prefer to live in the city centre. This might not be a good match and affect your ability to make friends at work and settle in. Another example could be that you are an avid cyclist and would like to find out if your co-workers are too, there is a cycling team or just shower facilities for when you cycle into work.

You won’t know if you don’t ask!

What are your favourite things about working here?

This question aims to get truthful answers about whether or not people take pride in working for the company. If they are able to respond to this question relatively quickly, it shows they have got genuine love for their job or at least strong liking. Also consider to ask the opposite of that question: “If you could change two things about the company, what topics would you tackle?”. Only ask that question if you’ve asked about the person’s favourite aspect of working at that company.

What is the busiest time of year like at the company?

Asking questions on when people typically go home or if people are always stressed can put you in an unfavourable light. You might leave the impression that you aren’t a hard worker. By paraphrasing these questions you can easily avoid this. Use phrases like “could you tell me about your busiest times of the year and how the team gets things done”. That way your interviewer can paint you a picture of how the company deals with periods of heavier workloads.

Do people usually dress like this?

Asking what people are allowed to wear to work can feel awkward, but you probably want to know the answer. A good opportunity to ask about this during the face-to-face interview is when when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions.

Make it about them, not you!

Smart use of technology

Smart use of technology in HR

The graph above shows the development of technologies used in recruitment and HR management. No matter what kind of technology – ATS, presumably the most frequently used technology or online assessments – the industry has experienced significant growth and development in technology which has touch points with nearly all HR functions. It hasn’t stopped there with technologies emerging that help candidates assess Cultural Fit.

The Korn Ferry Institution found that only 46 percent of UK based companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) with online assessment tools only being used 49 percent. In view of the fact that using the already available technologies mitigates risks and reduces the likelihood of mismatches, these are relatively low percentages.

Hiring managers still overly rely on their gut instinct and CV’s. Bad hires have serious financial implications. On average mismatches, hired persons who leave the company within 6 – 18 months, will cost companies £ 45,000.

Read more on the financial implications of bad hires and how to prevent them from happening.