Your company culture is a reflection of your company’s values and mission, often revealing itself in your work culture, goals, and overall attitude. Different cultures suit different companies, depending on the industry, size, origin, as well as the social and economic climate they function in. Culture can have a significant effect on the engagement, satisfaction, productivity and wellbeing of your employees. This is because different cultures suit different people. For example, while some people thrive and produce their best work in a high-pressure work environment, others struggle, or to put a metaphor on it, diamonds are made under pressure but when you let bread dough rest it’s able to rise. This doesn’t mean the first employee is objectively better – it just means they have a different personality and working style to the latter employee. It’s important you hold this in mind when conducting an interview with any kind of candidate.

While many organisations have aimed to employ a culture fit in the past – people who seamlessly fit into the pre-existing company culture – more recently the focus has shifted to hiring culture adds. Culture add is a term that refers to people who will be able to refresh your organisation, offering a new perspective and likely contributing to innovation, because they are a little different to the culture you have already established. An example of this could be bringing someone with a more relaxed and thoughtful mindset into a culture of busy bodies. It will inevitably motivate people to reflect on their working style simply by observing their co-worker.

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The pros and cons of a culture fit vs culture add employee

There are pros and cons to interviewing and hiring for both culture fits and culture adds which are important to bear in mind. While, as previously stated, a culture add can be a truly valuable asset to the growth of your company, the satisfaction and retention of the employee are at risk of your entire organisation are not on board with the idea of a culture add. Choosing to hire someone who is not a culture fit, with a different mindset and perspective that does not necessarily align with the pre-existing, popular one in your organisation could be met with resistance and scepticisms, which could lead your culture add hire to feeling unwelcome or unappreciated. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure your whole company is ready to embrace your new hire, by having your leaders and managers lead by example, onboarding and team building activities, and having your HR team check in regularly with the new hire.

While a cultural fit may be easier to retain and hire, there can be issues that you’ll need to consider and assess. Aside from limiting you access to a variety of perspectives and skills, it can also become discriminatory. Affinity bias can cause your hiring managers and interviewers to exclude candidates who they do not personally relate to in favour of candidates they do identify with. This could be related to education, age, experience, gender, race, religion, and more. It is at this point that you are moving yourself into realms of being discriminatory when selecting your cultural fit. It’s important that if you interview for cultural fit, you do not focus on who you like, or identify with, but instead finding someone who will thrive in your work environment, and who objectively has the best skillset for the role.

We have compiled 40 questions for a cultural fit interview, or a cultural add interview. What will indicate if someone would be a cultural fit employee or a cultural add employee is how a candidate answers these questions. If their answer suggests they would push some of your current employees out of their comfort zone, and that they have the potential to suggest new and fresh ideas, they are likely a culture add, if they have skills that have been proven to be reliable and productive in your organisation, then they are a culture fit. What’s most important when interviewing – whether for a cultural fit or cultural add – is that your interviewer remains, respectful, kind, and gives everyone and equal opportunity to prove themselves.

40 interview questions for a culture fit and culture add:

  1. What gets you really excited about your job?
  2. What about your job do you find challenging?
  3. What do you often find surprises people about you?
  4. If you were going to start your own business, what would it be?
  5. What do you think is the biggest problem in the majority of offices today?
  6. What did you like the most about your previous company?
  7. How would you describe your working style?
  8. How could a manager best support your growth?
  9. How do you cope with stress or tight deadlines?
  10. How have you changed in your professional life over the last five years?
  11. What has been the most valuable lesson of your career?
  12. What does a successful company culture feel like for you?
  13. What most appeals to you about this role?
  14. What aspects of this role could challenge you?
  15. Who or what inspires you and why?
  16. How would you describe your impression of our company culture so far?
  17. What would allow you to work more efficiently?
  18. How would you define work-life balance?
  19. What does your decision-making process look like?
  20. When was the last time you took a risk in your work?
  21. Do you prefer to work alone or with a team?
  22. How would you describe your leadership style?
  23. How do you keep on top of your workload and stick to deadlines?
  24. Would you describe yourself as an introvert or extrovert? Why?
  25. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out in your career?
  26. At this stage in your career, do you see yourself as more of a mentee or a mentor?
  27. You are asked to improve at a task that you thought went well. How would you respond to constructive feedback?
  28. Are there any though leaders or public figures that inspire you? Why?
  29. Describe a situation at work in which you finished a task but made errors. What did you do to handle the situation?
  30. What kind of company culture would make it difficult for you to grow professionally?
  31. In what ways do your colleagues benefit from working with you as opposed to one of your co-workers?
  32. In your opinion, how do you think we could improve or add to our current company values or culture?
  33. Tell us about a time you came across a situation or decision in the workplace you did not agree with. How did you handle it?
  34. How do you measure the success of an overall workplace?
  35. What’s something new you’ve learned in the last year that you are proud of? This could be professional or personal.
  36. Have you career goals changed as you progress through your career? If so, how?
  37. Has there been a time you changed your perspective on something at work? If so, what was it?
  38. How would you try to motivate a struggling team member?
  39. What three things would help create your ideal workplace?
  40. What makes you feel valued and undervalued by as an employee by your employer?


If you found this questions helpful, you might be interested in improving you’re interviewing technique, to improve overall candidate experience.

About the author

Hannah Elliott