Cultural Fit Questions are More Than a Formality

Job interviews bring different types of questions, from seemingly simple ones like ‘why do you want to work for us?’ to strange and amusingly eccentric ones, such as, ‘if you were an animal, what would you be?’

But why do interviewers ask such questions? How does being an animal related to the position you seek?

How do you give better answers to fit questions?

Fit questions are common questions, and you can easily mistake their answers are predictable, and that they are merely a formality.

As casual and routine as these questions may seem, they have an underlying interest. Like any other question, first, understand what the firm intends to find out that they put a premium on that question.

If you know what the panel wants, you will give it to them, and the job is yours to lose.

Hiring managers want to identify and single out candidates who fit in the available position, not merely for their skills and qualifications, but their values, beliefs, and behavior blends with the company’s culture.

But culture fit questions can seem especially irrelevant if you are interviewing for a very technical job or are going through a very specialist selection process – think a management consultant battling with a profitability framework (learn more about here) and issue trees on the run-up to a case interview or a tech applicant getting ready for a coding challenge.

So, most job seekers are often at a loss on how to handle these challenges during an interview. They either answer them casually or fumble in their answer. In the end, they ruin their chances of securing the slot for failing this crucial part of the selection process.

What Fit Questions Reveal About You

Research shows culture fit candidates are happier at work, more productive, and stay longer in the company. That means the company yields more and saves in terms of hiring costs.

However, most of the fit questions may not indicate anything directly relating to a happier work environment, longevity, and productivity. In the end, though, these three come out clearly.

Also, they test your soft skills, such as your ability to communicate and relate with co-workers. Finally, they discover whether you researched the company and the position you are contesting.

Example 1: Why should we hire you for this position?

As we mentioned earlier, first identify the objective of the question before answering it.

As for this question, the panel is interested in your commitment, general work ethic, and impact. So, you should work your answer around that!

The question can take many forms, including:

  •     What makes you valuable to the company?
  •     Why do you want to work in this industry?
  •     What motivates you?
  •     What can you bring to the company?
  •     What are your strengths?
  •     What can you do that other candidate can’t?

Back to the original questions, the idea is not to have you praise yourself. Instead, it is an opportunity to showcase your understanding of the industry, the company, and the role in question.

That seemingly simple question also goes ahead to test how much you prepared for the interview, how you answer tells the recruiter your industriousness and commitment to the role. If you didn’t do your research, then obviously you didn’t care much about the position.

You cannot answer this question well if you haven’t researched the company and your intended role. How well you cite specific and well-researched reasons gives you an upper hand in the race for being the perfect fit for the position.

How to Prepare for Fit Interview

Now that we agree that you should take no question for granted in an interview, how will you prepare to come up with better answers for the fit questions?

Well, it’s simple:

1.   Do your homework


The fact that you’re reading this guide means you are already ahead of some of your competition.

Other than how to frame your interview answers, it would be best if you also learned about the position you are applying for, the target company, and its subsequent industry.

With all the relevant facts at your fingertips, you can craft your answers around them using the appropriate metrics. Of course, if you prepare adequately, you give detailed but concise answers, precisely what your panel wants to hear.

When researching, match your skills, experiences, and competencies with what your employer has requested in their job posting.

Use the common fit questions to prepare by practicing how to answer them by simulating an interview situation. Start early and do it as many times as possible until you master the most compelling ways to answer these questions.

This preparation will boost your confidence, which is the key to successfully giving resounding answers.

2.   Own your story and be honest


A fit interview is a conversation between you and the recruiter. Typically, the culture fit questions are conversation starters, and often, interviewers follow them with other inquiries to drill down the answers. For this reason, it is in your best interest to stick to your true story.

If you lie, you have the burden of remembering what you said. However, if you stick to the truth, you’ll have lighter moments. The bottom line is to try as much as possible to be consistent.

Fit questions may be similar, but the answers are personal. If you try to fabricate things, you’ll be inconsistent, and at some point, the interview may leave you with an egg on the face.

3.   Compelling Stories make you memorable!


In most cases, culture fit questions invite you to tell stories. Feel free to share your brief stories with your eye on the golden price – convincing the panelists.

Briefly describe the situation, followed by the assignment, how you handled it, and the outcome. Don’t forget to outline the lessons you learned from the exercise, and what you should have done better.

See you there

Hopefully, this article has given you a head start you needed to get ready for your interview.  In your interview, don’t be desperate to win the job. As it is said, what is meant to be will effortlessly find its way to you. There’s always a perfect job and company out there somewhere. Don’t force anything, when the right opportunity comes, you will know it.