How to Know if a Candidate Will Match Your Company Culture

Cartoon about cultural fit with a dog interviewing a cat for a job in an all dog business.

You think you’ve found a great candidate for your job opening. Your potential employee has all of the right technical skills, experience and education. The interview went great — the candidate was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the job. The final step in the hiring process is determining if this candidate will be a fit with the company culture and the team you’ve worked so hard to build.

How do you know? We asked one of our experts to share some key tips.

Check out these tips for making the hiring process easier.

Step 1: Define your company culture

The first step comes long before you’re at the point of making an offer to a candidate, says Stephanie Drouillard, branch manager of Robert Half Technology in Memphis. “Clearly assessing your own company culture first and knowing what type of employee you believe will fit in — before you start interviewing — is the key to making a good hire.”

This step is especially critical in today’s fast-paced IT hiring environment. These days there’s no time for a long debate about fit with the workplace environment. If you have a good candidate, you need to act quickly to make them an offer or they will move onto another opportunity.

Here are five tips to help you hire in a hot IT hiring market.

Step 2: Make the most of the interview

So, making the most of your interview (or interviews) is critical. Answers to specific questions and body language during an interview can also reveal a lot about whether or not a candidate will be a fit for the company culture. For example:

  • Questions – Asking “what characteristics are exhibited by the best boss you ever had” or “tell me about the management style that allows you to do your best work” provides insight into which type of company culture a candidate is successful in. 
  • Body Language – Physical reactions to certain questions also can indicate where a candidate’s skills are and the type of work they value. Look for excitement or what makes the candidate “light up” and become animated when describing their past work.
  • Stories – Asking a candidate to share stories and accomplishments related to projects outside of paid work helps identify the candidate’s passions and interests. These stories can convey a lot about a candidate without risking questions that may seem too personal.

If you’re working with a staffing firm, the recruiter may suggest a “working interview” in addition to a traditional interview. Working interviews can be a good option to examine how the candidate fits into the company culture at your firm. Having the candidate meet with your team and actually do the job for a day is a great way for both sides to get as much information as they possibly can before they make a commitment.

Here's how IT staffing agencies can help you save time and money.

Step 3: Trust your gut

“Do not ignore gut instinct,” emphasizes Drouillard. “There is absolutely something to be said when a decision just doesn’t feel right.” She advises digging deeper and exploring why the decision is causing you to step back. Is it hard to envision the candidate smoothly transitioning into your workplace environment?

References are a great source to help you sort through any apprehension about fit with the company culture. Asking references specific questions about your concerns or having them talk you through an experience with the candidate can help expand your knowledge of how that candidate works and what workplace environment is best. Often this different perspective is exactly what you need to hear.

Although hiring in today’s tech world is moving at a rapid pace, Drouillard emphasizes doing your due diligence quickly but efficiently. “Don’t hire out of desperation,” she concludes. “If you do, that can cost everyone a lot in the long run.”

Need to hire an IT pro? We can help:

Check Out Our IT Staffing Solutions


More Resources:

Note: This post has been updated. It originally appeared on 4/3/14.