Recruiting Roadmap: How to Gauge Cultural Fit

Feb. 11, 2022
Three interviewing tips that will help you see a candidate from a different perspective

This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.

Sometimes, a resume can tell a story about a candidate – for example, that they are very detailed, or they prefer a lengthy writing style, or even how stable a person’s experience is. However, for the most part, resumes are bland, black-and-white sheets of paper describing work experience at best, and always leaving out the intricacies that truly make a person human.

There is only so much that a resume will tell you about a person. Rarely does a candidate’s personality jump off the page on a resume.

Ultimately, people will work for companies longer if they agree with or feel alignment to the other people working around them. Whether it is having similar values, approaching problems the same way, or working together, people want to feel welcome and excited about going to work each day.

Resumes alone are not enough to tell you about the person who wrote them. People are so much more than the words written about their career on a sheet of paper. So, how can a hiring manager determine if a candidate really “fits in” culturally within an organization?

Here are three interviewing tips to determine just that:

1. Ask open-ended, behavioral-based questions.

Certain questions – or better yet, the way the question is asked – can unlock personality traits. It is critical to ask questions that get the candidate talking about themselves, and it is critical that the interviewed to listen for a real answer.

A great example of an open-ended question is: What makes you a great team player? This type of question prompts a topic that is probably important in any setting, and how the candidate answers can tell you everything you need to know.

If the candidate seems to need a moment to think or pauses briefly, allow them a moment to collect themselves. These questions sometimes catch candidates off guard, as they are not always typical. If after some time they cannot provide a solid answer or provide an off-topic answer, the truth is, they may not be a very good team player. If the answer sounds scripted on the other hand, they have probably rehearsed it. A solid answer should appear very genuine and roll off the tongue.

Ask candidates what types of situations are frustrating to them, what values are important to them, and to cite some examples of things their previous company has done for them that they really appreciated. There really are no limits if the questions are open-ended in nature. This method of questioning will tell you all you need to know.

2. Ask about what-if scenarios.

A what-if scenario can also help hiring managers determine if the candidate will fit in. These scenarios are excellent at exposing judgment, integrity and critical thinking.

Asking a candidate how they would deal with a difficult client or colleague can speak volumes about their character, and it will most likely give you a good glimpse into their personality and how they handle conflict.

Another great scenario would be to ask a candidate what their dream job would be, money aside. This tells you where their passion lies and can give you some good insight on their values.

3. Be careful about using cultural assessments.

Some employers have opted for lengthy assessments to determine cultural fit. These are usually surveys or quizzes that are based on a set of answers that have been provided by leadership. This is an interesting idea in theory, but honestly, many of these tests are biased and a good number of prospective candidates – even some who hiring managers felt would be a good fit for the team – fail them. My suggestion would be to use these tools if you are on the fence with a candidate, but definitely remember to take them with a grain of salt.

Ryan Joseph is an Executive Recruiter for Recruit Group (, with a focus on security industry operations, sales, and sales leadership. For help with your security recruiting efforts, contact her at or call (954) 278-8286.

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