These 12 Questions Will Tell You if a Candidate is a Good Cultural Fit

woman laughing in job interview

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AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
We've already prepped you with the most common interview questions (and answers!) to help you nail your next interview. But what happens if you've already passed the first round of interviewing with flying colors, and now you are called in for a different type of follow-up interview — a personality interview to determine whether or not you'd be a good fit for the company culture.
A personality interview can be just as intimidating as a regular job interview — if not more intimidating because you can't respond with easy-to-prove hard skills. A personality interview will test your soft skills — how well you deal with others like clients, customers, colleagues, direct reports, managers, etc.
Here's everything you need to know to prepare for a personality interview.

How do you prepare for a personality interview?

Preparing for a personality interview is, in some ways, easier than preparing for a regular interview. That's because you don't need to really do that much homework about a company in order to prepare. While you should know about the company culture from reading around the company's website and other materials (and maybe from talking to existing employees), you don't need to prove any hard skills that would be an asset to the company. All you have to do is get a feel for the company culture and think about your character traits that fit into it.

Be prepared to be yourself! You want to be as honest as possible in this interview type because you want to determine whether or not the company is a good fit for you, just as much as the hiring manager is trying to figure out whether or not you are a good fit for the company. 
Here are some personality interview questions that you can anticipate in a personality interview.

What are some personality interview questions?

Be prepared to answer these 12 personality interview questions.

1. Do you prefer working in a team or independently?

Here's an opportunity to share why you love working on teams and independently. You probably want to argue for both, since most jobs will require you to collaborate and do some independent work.

2. What are you passionate about?

This is a time for you to share what excites you — make sure that it's at least somewhat relevant to the job. Maybe you're a passionate literary aficionado, and you're interviewing for a job at a publishing agency. You can talk about your love of books — perhaps the person hiring you shares the same love of your favorite book, and then you have something in common.

3. Tell me about a time when your manager wasn’t satisfied with your work — How did you handle the feedback, and what did you do differently going forward?

Everyone makes mistakes and there's always a time in everyone's career when they could have done something better — so don't be ashamed to talk about a time when your manager wasn't satisfied with your work. Make sure you keep whatever situation you describe, however, a minimal one. Perhaps, for example, you're a writer and your editor asked you to rewrite the article that you submitted because they'd like to see some revisions. You can talk about what you learned from that experience, and how you made sure to keep those revisions in mind for the next article that you wrote — with which your editor was really thrilled. The point is the make sure you share that you've since learned your lesson.

4. What motivates you?

Think about what motivates you and be honest about it. Maybe it's a team that's excited about the work they're doing, or a product or service you really believe in, or working toward something that promotes a good cause. Try to tie whatever motivates you into something about the company for which you're interviewing. Maybe they make really awesome philanthropic efforts that would motivate you or they have inspiring leaders at the top of the company who would motivate you.

5. How would you describe yourself?

Find a few adjectives to describe who you are as a professional. Maybe you're diligent, careful, collaborative, empathetic, committed, passionate or something else entirely. 

6. If you could relive the last 5 years of your life, is there anything that you'd do differently?

Maybe you wouldn't do anything differently because you choose to live with no regrets. Or maybe you'd have gone back to school at a younger age. Or you'd have taken time to travel. Or launched your business years ago. Whatever it is, make sure that you explain what you'd have done differently and how you've taken action today to make sure you live with no regrets.

7. How do you define success?

Define success on your own terms. Is it landing a specific job title? Working toward something about which you're passionate? Meeting small goals or meeting one big goal? Describe how you'd define success.

8. If your manager asked you to do a task you felt was impossible, how would you go about it?

Explain how you'd handle the situation. Maybe you'd give it a try first before asking for help. Or maybe you'd ask for help from your team right away so as to not waste any time.

9. Describe your work ethic.

What kind of worker are you? Do you breathe work? Do you set boundaries for yourself? Explain the kind of person you are when you're at the office.

10. What is the pace at which you work?

Do you get things done slowly but surely to make sure everything is done right? Do you tend to fly through work? What's your natural speed. Describe this by explaining how long it might take you to finish up a specific task.

11. Describe a time when you had to handle a heavy workload.

Have you ever had way too much work on your plate? What did you do? Delegate some of it to colleagues and subordinates? Move around deadlines and better prioritize?

12. If you knew your boss was wrong, how would you tell them — or would you?

If you were confident that your boss was 100% percent wrong about a situation, would you correct them and, if so, how? Describe how you'd ask them for a meeting, sit down with them in private and discuss the matter at hand.

FAQs

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions surrounding interviews.

What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers?

1. Tell me about yourself.

This is an opportunity to talk about yourself as a professional — not divulge your entire life history! You can give a brief explanation of your professional background like "I'm a journalist with 12 years of experience writing for XYZ magazines..."

2. Why are you interested in this role?

This is your chance to share your excitement about the job. "I am interested in this role because of XYZ."

3. Why are you interested in this company?

This is your chance to share your excitement about the company. "I am interested in this company because of XYZ."

4. How did you hear about this position?

"I found out about this position through X [person] or Y [job board]."

5. Why are you leaving your current job?

"I'm leaving my current job because I'm looking for a challenge, a change of pace, a new environment where I can really hone in on XYZ skills..."

6. Why are you currently unemployed?

"I'm currently unemployed because I was raising a family for the last X years, I decided to take some time off to focus on my own business, I took a few months off to travel, etc."

7. What are your biggest strengths?

"My biggest strengths are my ability to collaborate well with others, manage my time wisely and work well under pressure."

8. What is your biggest weakness?

"My biggest weakness is that I tend to take work home with me. In order to handle this professionally, I make sure to work hard while in the office and set boundaries for myself so I don't burn myself out."

9. How do you deal with pressure or stress?

"I work well under pressure, though I do my best not to ever let my workload pile up too high that I'm stressed out. I've learned how to delegate tasks well and work with my team to get the job done with as minimal stress as possible ahead of deadlines so there's never too much pressure."

10. Tell me about a challenge you faced and how you handled it.

"I one time faced a challenge in meeting a tight deadline for a client. I solved this by working overtime hours and prioritizing my other work so that I could get everything that I needed to get done in a timely manner. The rest that could wait, I let wait until the next week — but I made sure to take note of it so that I got on it the first thing the following Monday before it could pile up."

What is the STAR method when interviewing?

The STAR method refers to a structured manner of responding to an interview question by diving into the specific situation, task, action and result of the situation. For example, you might describe a situation in which you were asked to cover leading a meeting for a colleague who was out sick. You describe the situation, the task at hand (to lead the meeting), how you handled leading the meeting (your actions) and the result of that situation (how well the meeting panned out).

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About the Career Expert:

AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.