Culture fit is everything. When you find the right cultural fit, you share common interests with co-workers, understand how your role plays to the overall mission of the organization and believe in the company’s mission so much that the thought of going to work compels you to jump out of bed in the morning. Otherwise, you find yourself hitting the snooze button roughly nine times before throwing it across the room, rolling out of bed and falling to the floor -- thump! -- only to continue snoozing.
From the individual perspective, finding the right fit can be the fuel that ignites personal passion. However, doing so is easier said than done. After all, who doesn’t want to leap out of bed and yodel their way into work?
Fortunately, as an entrepreneur, you have a say in who enters, stays and departs “the wolf pack” known as your company. If you want to bring in top talent and ensure a culture of excellence, here are five questions to ask your next victim, I mean, interviewee, to assess if he or she is the right fit:
1. How do you improve yourself?
Constant self-improvement is how a person stays competitive and relevant, so be leery of applicants who lack the intellectual curiosity -- or the courage -- to personally reflect.
What should you expect for responses? I have no idea, but the following are three that come to mind:
- The novice will ask, “At what?” because he just doesn’t get it.
- The amateur will ask for the question to be repeated in hopes of stalling long enough for an answer to come to mind (because he or she really doesn’t have one).
- The professional will simply answer the question.
Be fair, though. Remember to expect of others only what you would expect of yourself in answering this question.
2. What do you look for in a company?
I’m not going to lie, this is a tough question to answer for a couple reasons. First, it immediately places the interviewee under scrutiny because he or she wants to say the “right” thing -- but that’s the catch, there is no right answer. It’s a test to see if he or she is willing to be open and honest or if they'll just tell you what they think you want to hear.
Here's the second catch. If the applicant rattles off what they want in their ideal company, you now have the chance to say, “Well, we don’t have that. Are you willing to settle?” Oh, this interview just got better.
3. What are you curious about?
The aim here is to test the interviewee’s intellectual curiosity. Is the person going to watch problems be solved or actually solve them? Also inherent in this line of questioning is humility. If the applicant likes to know everything possible out of a need for control or power then, well, that may not be a good thing.
4. Tell me about your greatest accomplishments.
This is a smokescreen to deeper, more revealing, insights. You, as the interviewer, don't necessarily care what the interviewee has achieved -- it’s how he or she got there that matters. You want to test his or her work ethic, values and belief system.
If, for instance, the applicant finished first in his or her college class out of a total of four people, then the "wow" factor just depleted significantly. The same goes if the interviewee has any ninth place ribbons to share. However, if he or she placed ninth out of 9,000, then that’s a different story.
Tip for new applicants: always be sure to share the context around your conclusions.
5. How do you fail?
Another tough one, but very revealing. I've written before how failure is only determined by where you choose to stop, so if there's great consternation or hesitation in the interviewee's answer, it's quite possible he or she isn't comfortable with failure. Of course, he or she may also just be having gas pains. You just don't know.
"Great organizations are built by great people, and if you have the right ones on your team, you can accomplish anything," wrote Jennifer Dulski, president and COO of Change.org.
Finding the right fit isn’t easy, but when you do, you unlock a whole new world of workplace potential because you have people who want to work and grow the company.