6 Top Tips for Assessing a Candidate’s Cultural Fit

Collingwood are often tasked with benchmarking a candidate’s cultural fit for our clients. This can often be seen as a difficult task for some, especially when recruiting a business critical senior role.

Collingwood have worked with a wide range of clients over the years and despite candidates having a wealth of experience in the sector, a decision often comes down to the dynamics of the individual and what value they would add to the current team. Are businesses looking to take less risk in their recruitment decisions? No, in my opinion.

Would you rather have a ‘disruptive superstar’ who may quickly add sales, but disrupts the team dynamics, or ensure your past success continues and you support and develop your team that have helped you achieve this success.

But how do you assess a candidate’s cultural fit? Here are some interview questions and tips on how to improve your selection process and cultural fit assessment.


Ask their opinion on your company values and examples of how they have demonstrated these in the past.

As a business, Collingwood conducts our day-to-day work on a core set of company values:

Accountability                  Integrity                         Listening                             Innovation

In order to ensure that a candidate fits your values and ways of working, question them around their own personal values, or question them around your own values. If a candidate is like-minded and passionate in what they do, they will easily be able to call upon examples for you and how they would fit in to your team.

Discuss how they have dealt with conflict with co-workers in the past

Day-to-day business doesn’t always run smoothly and you will often come across conflicts or misunderstandings. You need to understand how the candidate would deal and manage individuals to ensure that there is no long-term damage to the current team dynamics. You also need to ensure what type of conflict they have encountered in the past and if this could be a risk to your business.

What activities do they do outside of work that benefits their day-to-day job

Understanding what enjoyments and motivations people have outside of work is an important part of assessing cultural fit. Are there any common activities that others share in the office? This will help with the team dynamics. Also, depending on the activities, it will also indicate how competitive they are and how driven they are to succeed, again very important when recruiting senior figures into a business.

What books do they like to read and what have they learnt which they have brought in to their working life?

Finally, do they do any volunteering or charity work? This is a great way of assessing a candidates values.  

Ask them to describe a time that they went out of their way to please a customer or colleague

In asking a candidate how they have gone that extra mile in the past, it will help you understand how they would fit in to your own business values as well as any similarities in behaviours to your current team. This will then show their passion for the role and business as well as the drive and determination they have to succeed.

Involve your current team in the process and get them to meet candidates

This is often something that is overlooked or something that companies are not comfortable doing. There is no need to get them involved in the whole process or get them to conduct a formal interview. Instead, when you are at final stage interviews or close to making an offer, get your current team to spend some time with them. Get your team to share their own experiences about the business and get the candidate to ask questions that they may not be comfortable asking the CEO/Director. You will also be able to gain a second opinion from your team, which will help you make a decision. Your current team are going to be spending the most time with the new recruit, it is important that they are involved with the decision.  

Use behavioural profiling and assessment tools

Collingwood are a big advocate of using behavioural profiling tools is assessing leadership skills and personalities. We use both Thomas International (DISC system), as well as Hogan Leadership Assessment. These tools often give you advice on questions to ask at an interview, to understand their drives and motives, along with the ability to benchmark their results against your current employee’s results. Finally, this will also highlight any areas for personal development and what to focus on when delivering a leadership transition program, ensuring that they quickly settle in to their new role and your culture.

For the last 11 years, Collingwood has provided executive search and leadership development services for a wide range of clients, from SME’s up to large corporates across the UK and Europe. If you are looking for someone to identify and headhunt your new senior leaders or provide leadership transitioning or coaching, please feel free to get in contact 01829 732374 or email enquiries@collingwoodsearch.co.uk.