Ask a hiring manager which top qualities they’re looking for in candidates, and culture fit is bound to be up there. It’s no surprise — research shows that hiring for culture fit leads to reduced turnover, cost savings and happier, more productive employees, so it’s definitely in a company’s best interest to find somebody who’s a good match.
But job seekers are often at a loss for how to show culture fit during an interview. And although it can indeed be difficult, it’s far from impossible — you just need to follow a few best practices first.
1. Do Your Homework
The first step in demonstrating culture fit is actually knowing what a company’s culture entails. According to Megan Nunan, Career Specialist at Ama La Vida, “Culture fit sums up all the ‘extras’ about a company that you can’t classify into one bucket. Things like do you align with their values, do you mesh well with those already hired at the firm, could you thrive in the current environment, etc.” Luckily, you can find much of this through your own research before the interview even rolls around.
“Look at what they post about on social media, look at pictures of the office and people working there. These will all give you clues as to what they value and what the company’s culture is like,” she says. “It also never hurts to ask around — if you know someone that either works at the firm or knows someone that works there, taking them out for a quick coffee could be the best investment you’ll ever make in yourself.”
2. Get Introspective & Rehearse
As you learn about a company’s values, work style, office environment, etc., you’ll want to think about how those match your own. Not only will this help you identify whether or not the company is the right fit for you — it’ll also give you an idea of what points you’ll want to touch on during an interview. For example, if you’re interviewing at a startup and you realize that you’re highly independent, self-motivated and excel at working at a fast pace, you’ll want to proactively highlight all of those factors in your answers.
In order to do that, you may want to research some of the most commonly asked interview questions and think about how you plan on answering them.
“There are an endless number of cultural fit questions like, ‘what kind of corporate environment do you thrive in, who was your best boss and why, what do you love about your current job,’” Nunan says. “The key to answering these successfully is to first take the time to reflect on the type of company culture that best suits you and then answer in a way that shows you’re intentional about your desire to work at this firm and that your values align nicely with those of the organization.”
And remember: the more you rehearse the answers to those questions (yes, I mean aloud!), the more comfortable you’ll be when it comes time for the actual interview.
3. Dress the Part
When you show up for an interview, you want your outfit to be appropriate — but remember, “interview-appropriate” will have different meanings at different companies.
4. Ask Questions
The idea of having to ask questions in an interview can be stressful — after all, shouldn’t answering their questions be enough? But really, you should think of it as an opportunity. It’s a great way to get a sense of how things operate day to day and, perhaps even more importantly, prove how you would fit in there.
5. Be Honest
Demonstrating culture fit is important, but even more important is finding a job and company that fit your life. After all, if you’re going to spend 40+ hours a week there, you’ll want to enjoy it.