Employers want to hire candidates that fit into their companies. They don’t want to hire a corporate culture mismatch. Their opportunity to determine this is during the job interview.
Show that you are a corporate culture fit
Three things need to happen:
- Learn about the company, understanding anything you can about the corporate culture.
- Know your own competencies.
- Prepare and practice behavioural interview questions.
Cultural Fit as a Selection Criteria
One of the main purposes of a job interview is to enable the employees on the interview team to assess the potential cultural fit of a job candidate. Interaction in the interview setting with a potential employee is key in employee selection. The candidate must exhibit both the necessary qualifications to perform the job and the essential fit needed to work effectively within the existing organization.
– Susan M. Heathfield: Assess Cultural Fit When Interviewing Candidates, humanresources.about.com
Preparation for the Job Interview
In the job interview, the employer needs to see that you are the right fit. You also need to assess the employer to see if the organization is the right fit for you.
Learn about the company
- The Job Posting: Remember companies who are aware of their corporate culture and want to continue to foster that culture. The employer is not only looking for the necessary skills, but also for a personality fit. They usually identify the qualities, values and competencies they are seeking in an individual even before the interview; in their job postings.
- The company’s website: You may also want to check their website for more insight into the company’s culture. Here you will learn about important information about the company such as the Mission and Vision.
- Read company reviews: Find reviews done by others about the company.
- Do information interviews: Call the company and do an information interview.
- Network: If you know someone, or of someone who works there, talk to them.
- Visit the company: Try to get brochures from the company.
Know Your Own Competencies
Here is a list of the most common competencies employers are looking for:
|Attention to detail||Continuous learning|
|Conviction / courage||Creativity and innovation|
|Assertiveness||Dealing with ambiguity|
|Impact and influence||Integrity and honesty|
|Sensitivity||Passion and drive|
|Planning and organizing||Political savvy|
|Problem-solving||Listening and responding|
|Strategic analysis||Team- building|
Questions to consider when assessing a company
- What are their values?
- What are their goals?
- What do they do that is unique to their industry?
- What is their motto, mission and vision statement?
- What do they do to support their company culture?
Example: Mission Statement for the Centre for Skills Development and Training
The Centre for Skills Development and Training is a dynamic and entrepreneurial team of professionals who provides lifelong learning opportunities for the community through responsive quality programming and mutually beneficial partnerships.
What criteria would the Centre be basing its hiring practice on? Some key words to look at: dynamic, entrepreneurial, team, professionals, lifelong learning, quality programming, partnerships.
If you were interested in pursuing a career with the Centre, you would need to ask yourself, “Do I have the necessary qualities for this to be a good fit for me and the Centre?” Am I outgoing and enthusiastic, am I somewhat entrepreneurial, or creative? Do I have the required certification for my profession? Do I enjoy learning and would I like to continue updating my knowledge in my field – do I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn? Do I care enough to do what it takes to provide the quality standards the company offers? What do I know about partnerships with organizations in the community?
What competencies would the Centre be looking for in a new hire? Do you have the necessary competencies? If the answer is yes, you would probably excel at your job and enjoy the journey. If not, you should probably be looking for something that will give you a better fit
Prepare and Practice Behavioural Interview Questions
Behavioural interviews began in the 1970s but have gained a lot of ground in recent years. Studies show that while there is only about a 14% chance of selecting the right candidate using the traditional method of questions, the odds are over 60% when using behavioural questions.
Sample traditional questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths and/or weaknesses?
- Why do you want to work for us?
These are questions that astute job seekers can prepare for in advance. It is fairly obvious to most people what the right answers would be, so the employer doesn’t necessarily learn much about the candidate.
Behavioural questions work on the premise that past behaviour is an indicator of future behaviour. In other words, the methods you used to solve problems, lead teams, and work with others in the past will likely be the same methods you will use in the future.
Sample Behavioural questions:
- Give an example of a time when you disagreed with a supervisor. How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome?
- Tell me about a time when you went over and above the call of duty.
- Give me an example of a goal you set in the past and how you succeeded in achieving it.
Interview Question: Tell me about a time you handled a difficult situation.
How can you prepare for a behavioural interview?
Now that you’ve assessed your core competencies, you want to be able to give examples of how you use your skills.
Start by thinking about your successes. Go over your work experience and think about any times where you achieved a goal, were commended by a supervisor, or created a new method of doing something. Those are your successes. They don’t have to be huge successes that saved the company thousands of dollars, though that would be a good success story.
Also think about the lessons you have learned. We have all had to deal with irate customers, or a co-worker that was hard to get along with, or deal with a situation that was unique, which you didn’t handle well. What did you learn from these situations? Lessons learned can be valuable information to an employer. If you can recognize that you failed at a task but have learned the reasons why and how you would handle things differently the chances are good that you would be successful the next time.
It might be useful to consider the type of work you want to do. What information would employers want to know about you? For example, if you are in advertising, they may want information on your creative process. If you are applying for a position as a manager, employers may want to know about your problem-solving skills and people-management skills.
You might look at your competency list and think about how you’ve demonstrated those competencies in the past.
Ideally, you want to come up with at least 5 experience stories.
Give your experiences a title, for example: “Problem with meeting deadlines- ABC Co.” This will cue you to the story you want to tell. Start compiling your stories on the chart below. The headings might help you to get started.
Learn what kind of questions to expect and how you can answer them correctly.
Successful Interviewing #10: Behavioral-based interview questions covers what behavioral-based interview questions are, how to answer them and what to avoid.
Now that you have some story ideas in mind, there is a preferred method of preparing them.
Most HR people use some version of the “Situation – Action – Result” format (SAR) There is SOAR – Situation, Ownership, Action, Result or STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result. This is how you want to structure your story. Your answers should be no more than 2 minutes long and should follow the SAR structure.
Situation: Where were you working? What was your position? What was the problem or issue? Why was this a problem and what were the repercussions?
Action: What did you do to solve the problem? What were your actions? It is most important to use the word ‘I” here. The employer wants to learn about how you think, work or problem solve. Give lots of detail here as this is where you want to highlight your actions.
Result: What was the result of your actions? Did they implement your idea or plan? Did it save the company time or money? Were you complimented by a supervisor or co-worker? How was the situation made better by your actions?
Write your stories out and give them a title. They could be included in your portfolio. At the end of the story write down all the competencies you used in this experiential example.
Example of a SAR Story: Complaint Process at the Call Centre
Situation: I was working for a call centre where we handled customer complaints. It was a very demanding job as you can imagine. People expect their complaints to be dealt with quickly and when they don’t hear back from the company, they call again and again. This increases the number of calls coming into the company and affects the number of callers we are able to deal with in a given amount of time.
Action: As this was affecting our caller satisfaction efficiency, I looked at the protocol for handling customer complaints. When a complaint was made, the information was recorded by hand and a hard copy had to be sent to a series of 5 people before we could get back to the customer with a resolution. This usually took an average of 10 – 15 days to complete. I devised a method of tracking the complaint on line. The date of the complaint was recorded and managers would be alerted if the complaint had not been signed off by them within a 5 day period.
Result: As a result, we were able to speed up the process and were able to improve our customer service. Complaints were dealt with within 5 days rather than the original 10 – 15 days. This resulted in happier customers and fewer call backs, which in turn allowed us to take more calls in a given period of time.
My supervisor commended me for my actions and the process is still being used.
Competencies: analytical thinking, attention to detail, conviction and courage, customer-focused, impact and influence, goal-oriented, problem-solving, motivation, technical proficiency, initiative, listening and responding, team-building.