Everything You Wanted to Know About the Cultural Fit

You’ve made it to the final interview. Now it’s your chance to wow the interviewing team and get the offer you’ve been waiting for. What are the next steps?

We’ve been talking about Micheal Pietrack’s “Game Plan to Win” and the four areas that all employers look at to assess candidates in the final interview. We’ve covered motivational fit and functional fit in the last two blog posts. Today’s post will focus on the third, and most comprehensive area that employer’s look at – cultural fit.

What is cultural fit?
Cultural fit is best summed up by describing how well you fit in with the team and the environment. Do they make a connection with you and feel like you can move right into the role with ease? According to Peitrack, there are seven qualities that fit into the category of cultural fit. When employers are gauging whether or not you fit in, they have different areas that they’re looking at. It will be one or more of these following seven qualities – intelligence, passion for achievement, problem-solving ability, decisiveness, adaptability, teamwork, and resiliency.

Let’s break these down and look at how to prepare best so that you naturally cover all seven during your interview.

Intelligence in this situation is not book smarts or your training and education. It’s simply the intelligence you show in conversation. How quickly and adeptly can you answer the questions they ask? How prepared are you for this interview? These are traits that are attractive to all employers, so be sure that you go into the interview prepared to answer difficult questions without pause.

Passion for achievement
Passion for achievement shows drive, persistence, and the willingness to go above and beyond. You can share your work ethic and give a specific example of a time that you went beyond your job description to get something done for the benefit of the company.

When presented with a problem in the workplace are you able to resolve the issue on your own and make a quick decision when necessary? Employers want to be sure that you are a problem solver and that you are not afraid to resolve an issue on your own. Share with the hiring team examples of times where you were able to resolve problems that were brought to your attention quickly.

Decisiveness shows the ability to make a decision and stop problems from growing. An indecisive leader can lead a company into bigger crises by not making tough decisions fast enough in the process. Were there times that you were able to make a tough decision, that saved the company from a bigger crisis, provided a financial savings to the company, or handled an upset customer that was going to cause legal or financial issues for the company potentially?

The ability and willingness to adapt to change is a very important trait to demonstrate to potential employers, in this climate where company buyouts and employee transitions happen daily. Whether it’s moving your manager into a different role and replacing them with someone else or changing under new ownership, you will face change at many points throughout your career. Your new employer needs to be certain that you won’t move on to another job because you’re not comfortable with changes that may come down the road. An easy way to demonstrate this is to share times that you may have had to help move your team through a new policy change or other big changes within the organization. Show your willingness to be flexible.

One of the most important qualities to show regardless of who you will be working for is teamwork. You can almost guarantee that this is a trait that all employers will ask about in some way, so be sure to have several examples prepared that demonstrate your ability and your willingness to work with others on your team. Share experiences that demonstrate your ability to compromise with others, as well as examples of times that you may have been instrumental in resolving conflict on your team. This can also be shown by your ability to be diplomatic in the interview and demonstrate empathy for others. If you can demonstrate that you can understand other people’s viewpoints, the interviewing team will feel secure that you will work well within a team environment.

Resiliency is best described as the ability to bounce back from disappointment or frustrations, or the resolve to continue forward regardless of the tough times you may be experiencing. This can best be indicated by sharing a frustrating experience you encountered, possibly something that was unfairly handled in your workplace.

Keep in mind when you go to your final interview and look at the many facets of cultural fit, most of the interviewers will not be expecting you to hit all 7 of these traits, but you won’t know which one of the seven they are most interested in. If you can convey a story that checks off each one of these seven traits, then you have clearly shown them that you are a cultural fit for their company. Practice coming up with a 1-2 minute story to share that will demonstrate this without using those words and definitions.