16 cultural fit interview questions for tech recruiters
Tech recruiters usually state that during their practice the most hiring fail occurs due to poor cultural fit instead of lack of candidates’ technical skills.
Acing the technical interview is important, but technical skills are replaceable in the end, right? Chasing the right cultural fit in candidates makes things a bit tricky. “Cultural fit is a must at Journi, and it’s a first thing we check for during our interview process,” says Katharina Messner, Team Assistant at Journi GmbH. “Qualities such as being a team player, interest in work-life balance, and strong motivation to join the team and project are what we look for here.”
That’s why during the interview stages, candidates are evaluated to assess if they align with the company’s core values using different behavioral interviewing methods.
Cultural fit interview structure
Just like every interview, a behavioral interview has to have a structure as well. Introduction, resume walkthrough, and specific questions are all part of it. Behavioral interviews attempt to discover how candidates act in employment-related situations or conflicts and how they feel like solo or team players.
Forming a cultural fit interview structure for different tech roles is essential. It provides the proper assessment of the candidates due to their output expectations (e.g., team lead or an independent employee in case of a remote position).
Questions may vary from company to company but also depending on specific software engineer roles. To make things easier for tech recruiters, we have formed a shortlist of must-have questions for cultural fit interviewing.
Cultural fit interview questions - the shortlist
1. Name one tricky software development problem, and how did you solve it?
Tip: It will provide the interviewer with candidates’ overall problem-solving skills. To navigate the interview with more ease, the interviewer should be familiar with various tech project phases or tasks in general and fond of vocabulary.
2. Have you ever disagreed with your team lead, and how did you act?
Tip: The answer will provide the potential candidate’s competency level and highlight its problem-solving skills, giving basic confidence in the candidate as the right fit.
3. Why do you want to work for us?
Tip: A common question in almost every recruiting process but also very usable in tech recruiting. The answer will determine if the candidate has competencies, experience, and overall understanding of the company’s core or even product.
4. What are your favorite resources to keep updated on software engineering?
Tip: Candidates showing proactive nature or passion for constant learning are the must-haves.
5. Describe the work environment in which you flourish?
Tip: At first hand, this seems like an informal question, but it reveals what an idealistic climate for software engineers known to praise their work-life balance is. Also, this question can be used for detection if the candidate inclines remote work.
6. What is your preferred work style?
Tip: As mentioned above, this is a good approach if the interviewer wants to be more direct, especially if the company management is thinking about transitioning to a “hybrid office” in the future.
7. If there is an obstacle that you can foresee preventing you from hitting the deadline, what could it be?
Tip: Understand candidates’ ability to foresee problems but also to prevent them is essential. Skillful tech recruiters might be able to form a clear picture of candidates’ experience levels.
8. Tell me how you have dealt with unexpected deadline changes?
Tip: Working under pressure is nothing new in rapidly growing tech companies. Interviewers know more about the company and its processes, making them feel out of it if they are an excellent addition to the tech team.
9. Give me a specific example of a time when you failed at something?
Tip: Candidates’ who are aware of their failures are prone to upgrade their knowledge and skillset to prevent them. It also provides a moment when the interviewer can assess if the candidate possesses valuable introspective skills.
10. Give examples of situations where you have shown effectiveness, empathy, and adaptability?
Tip: Another point where it’s possible to consider candidates' reflective skills, but also to know if her/his reactions are the ones that the company is looking for.
“Working at Meister is all about the culture. We have formulated values with whom we all identify. We call one ‘Take the initiative. Get it done.’, and it refers to pursuing an opportunity upon seeing it,” says Henning Möller, Talent Acquisition Manager at MeisterLabs GmbH. “One day, I had a video interview with a candidate who was sitting in the dark and gloomy room even though it was a bright and sunny day. It turns out I forgot to calculate time zones correctly, and he got up at 4 am to talk to me. I apologized 100 times, but he said it’s not a problem. He told me that he was super passionate about the job, and if that meant sacrificing the sleep, he wouldn’t mind. That definitely made an impression on me.”
Here are some additional examples of cultural fit interview questions:
11. Describe a situation where you had to lead a group that had difficulties. How did you handle it?
12. Have you handled a difficult situation with a coworker, and how?
13. How would you handle a situation where you receive a lot of negative feedback in the middle of your presentation?
14. When you work in a team, what is your go-to role?
15. How do you experiment?
16. How do you come up with ideas?
Besides success, there will also be candidates who aren’t the right ones for your company. In both situations, you will gather valuable knowledge. Use feedback to evaluate and constantly upgrade cultural fit interview questions. It will allow you to form different templates when looking for various software engineer roles.
The next time you are conducting a video or an in-person interview, try to implement some of the questions mentioned above to help you better evaluate how the candidate fits your company culture.
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