January 26, 2023 by Andrea Rajic

30 Company Culture Questions To Ask In Candidate Interviews

30 Company Culture Questions To Ask In Candidate Interviews

Table of contents


    Why every company should ask (and answer) culture-related questions


    Don’t aim for cultural fit — try culture add instead


    30 culture add interview questions to ask your top candidates


    What to keep in mind when asking cultural add questions


    Emphasize your culture and provide top-notch experiences to employees and candidates alike

Workplace Culture

Does your hiring process include questions to determine what a candidate can add to your company culture? For most companies, the answer is no, as they’re still stuck trying to get prospective employees to fit into their culture and values.

In this blog, we’ll make a case for ditching cultural fit and replacing it with questions that help you uncover candidates who will replenish, enrich, and make your corporate culture better. Buckle up!

Hiring new team members is much more than filling a skills gap; you want to build long-lasting relationships that will benefit both the company’s bottom line and an employee’s career.

And to ensure that the priorities, motivations, and core values of the company and the candidate are aligned, hiring managers often turn to culture-related job interview questions. And it’s a good idea — you don’t want to hire someone whose skills are great but they’re a nightmare to work with.

Also, getting a feel of the workplace culture is no longer a one-way street. It’s a standard practice for candidates to ask questions about work-life balance, professional development and mentorship opportunities, and the general work environment. It helps them identify any red flags and avoid companies with toxic corporate cultures. Don’t b surprised if candidates come to the call with a list of questions for you — that’s a great sign that they want to know more about the company and the role.

Don’t aim for cultural fit — try culture add instead

In the past few years, especially since 2020, company culture has become essential for attracting, retaining, and engaging the best talent. And with Millennials and Gen Z taking over as the majority of the global workforce, it’s easy to see why; these generations care about shared values and look for purpose in their work, so they aim to get new jobs in companies they can identify with.

And yet, most companies still ask interview questions to determine a good cultural fit. These questions often focus on the job seekers’ preference for team-building activities, hobbies outside of work, and general interests. And we don’t think it’s a good idea to build teams on that basis.

The intention of cultural fit interview questions is for recruiters to determine if a candidate is a good match with the company’s value system, culture, and teams, but it often leads to unconscious biases and groupthink scenarios where new hires are valued based on their similarity to the interviewers, and not their actual skills.

In today’s workplace, culture add wins over culture fit, and companies should be actively searching for candidates whose values, skills, and behaviors complement and enrich the existing culture.

Need help building a positive company culture that employees will love? Read our 10-step guide to building a strong company culture >>>

What do these interview questions test for?

So let’s imagine we’re in an interview process, and we want to determine how a candidate will contribute and add to our workplace culture. If you ask them a question like “What do you enjoy doing outside of work?” or “What’s your favorite podcast?” you’ll learn about their personal preferences but not about their professional values, behaviors, and motivations.

In contrast, the questions we outlined below will help you get a feel of what a potential new employee will bring to the table if they join your team. You’ll find out about their motivations, how they handle problem-solving, whether they are willing to take risks, and how they react to diverse perspectives.

30 culture add interview questions to ask your top candidates

You don’t have to stress about coming up with culture-related questions for your interviews. We made this list of 30 questions to get you started and make interviewing for culture a breeze:

  1. What is your preferred work style?
  2. Can you give me an example of a time when you took into account a different point of view, and it helped you solve a problem?
  3. Tell me about a time when you handled a conflict with a coworker. How did that look like, and what tools did you use for conflict resolution?
  4. Can you give an example of a disagreement you had with your direct manager? How did you handle it, and what was the outcome?
  5. What does a successful workday look like for you? What about a successful year?
  6. What is your preferred way of bonding with your team? What makes you feel part of a team?
  7. Tell me about a time when your ideas brought a fresh perspective to the table. How did you present it, and what was the outcome?
  8. What is your impression of our company culture and core values? How do you think it aligns with your values?
  9. What are your main career goals? Have they changed during your career, and if yes, how?
  10. Tell us about a time when you had a change of opinion about a situation at work. What happened to cause you to change your mind, and how did you communicate that?
  11. What are the top 3 characteristics you value most in managers? Which leadership style or management style helps you thrive?
  12. What is an aspect of our company culture that you think can be improved or communicated better?
  13. How do you typically approach problem-solving at work?
  14. What motivates you to go the extra mile at work?
  15. What is your approach to learning new skills at work? How do you prefer to learn and grow in a professional setting?
  16. What is your preferred work schedule? Do you like having fixed work hours or prefer to be flexible?
  17. How do you prefer to be managed? Which style of feedback do you value the most?
  18. When joining a new team, how do you approach getting to know your teammates?
  19. What can a company do during the onboarding process to set you up for success?
  20. What do you bring to a team when you join? What would you say your teammates benefit from when working with you?
  21. Can you share an example of a time when you learned something you were proud of at work? What was it?
  22. Do you prefer to get feedback on your work in performance reviews or in informal meetings?
  23. What is it about our company that attracted you to apply for this role?
  24. What are you looking to get from your next job?
  25. Tell me about a time when you took a professional risk. Was your environment supportive of the risk, and what was the outcome?
  26. What does career development look like for you? What’s a career path you’d like to pursue in the next 5 years?
  27. What are the core things you are looking for when applying for a new job? Did our company fulfill those criteria?
  28. Tell us about a time when an organization’s culture had a positive impact on how you do your job.
  29. What are the core factors that impact your job satisfaction?
  30. How would you describe your dream job?

What to keep in mind when asking cultural add questions

If you’re new to asking culture-related questions in job interviews, we have some tips to keep in mind, especially for the first couple of times:

  1. Be open to diverse backgrounds and perspectives. The entire idea behind the concept of culture add is to welcome different points of view, backgrounds, and problem-solving angles. Be aware of any biases you may have and keep them in check for the interview.
  2. Bring employees into the process. Although it’s rare for recruiters or hiring managers to conduct interviews by themselves, make sure to include as many employees as you can in the process, especially if they are on the team a candidate is applying to join. Show them the culture add questions beforehand and get their feedback.
  3. Prepare for the interview and answer questions from candidates. Be ready to answer just as many questions about company culture as you expect the candidate to prepare for. As we mentioned above, it’s a two-way street, and employees should get their chance to ask about anything from teamwork to wellbeing and company values.

Emphasize your culture and provide top-notch experiences to employees and candidates alike

A positive and well-defined company culture can make or break your recruiting, onboarding, and retention efforts, so it’s vital you define, communicate, and exude culture in the everyday experiences of your team.

Want to know more about defining and maintaining your company culture? Read more on our blog:

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Written By

Andrea Rajic


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