3 Ways To Test For Cultural Fit At Your Next Interview

05/30/2017 11:21 pm ET Updated May 31, 2017

Some things can’t quite be measured by a sterling resumé and perfect answers to standard job interview questions.

More and more companies today are realizing the need to test prospective employees to see if they’re a cultural fit. If you’re a more laid-back, casual company, someone used to a Wall Street environment might be a poor fit, even if they can perform the job admirably. Likewise, if your business moves at entrepreneurial speed, you want someone open to change and able to think on their toes.

How important is a positive company culture (and finding the right employees who jibe with that culture)? According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the cost of turnover due to a poor cultural fit can be 50 to 60 percent of that person’s annual salary.

Making sure that someone doesn’t violate your company’s “No Jerks” rule doesn’t just make your employees happy, it keeps the bottom line in order.

Here are three ways you can test for cultural fit at your next interview.

Employment Period

You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive. I don’t believe you should hire an employee without putting them through a trial run, even something as simple as a day or two.

Companies such as Joor and Sequoia Capital are among the many workplaces all over the country that test for cultural fit by hiring them for a short period. They pay the employee a fair stipend and cover the travel costs, if they’re coming from out of the area.

Only do this when you’re at the finalist stage, though. This can be a highly effective way to see how your employees feel about the prospective hire. It also is their chance to prove to you that they can back up what they’ve boasted in the cover letter.

It’s risky and non-traditional, but I think it’s such a smart way to hire. I wish more companies took this route. They’d learn at day one (not 3 months later) that the employee is a poor cultural fit, saving tens of thousands of dollars down the line.

Have Interviewees Take a Personality Test

Another tactic many companies use to learn more about prospective hires is to have them take a personality test. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a popular one.

If you go this route, make sure to test your employees as well, so you have a control group. If you have a team full of extroverts, hiring an introvert might make that person feel all alone. Maybe you have a good balance on that, but need more of a critical thinker.

While it’s not an official indicator of personality, the test can give you more information into the mind of a potential hire. You’re not alone: 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use some element of Myers-Briggs in the hiring process.

Myers-Briggs has come with a fair amount of controversy and criticism, so do the research to find if this is the best tactic for your company. Other hiring tests are out there — or you could create your own, if you feel comfortable enough.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Asking seemingly random questions is a staple of the hiring process at Google. While they used to ask embarrassingly wacky brain teasers as a way to thin the herd, the company has started asking more practical questions that give insight into the personality of the prospect.

Here’s a look at some of the cultural questions that potential hires have been asked by Googlers:

“Which do you think has more advertising potential in Boston, a flower shop or a funeral home?”

“How many ways can you think of to find a needle in a haystack?”

“Do you prefer earning or learning?”

These questions are designed to get interviewees out of their comfort zone. Almost every interviewee has practiced responses and is ready to respond to the same questions they’ve heard over and over. You don’t want to know what they’ve rehearsed. You want to know how they work.

With these questions, you can gain valuable insight into how their mind works and find out if they would be a great fit with your team.

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