Company culture is basically the way a business is run. Strict integrated systems and work protocols, or a relaxed workplace that stimulates creativity – these are both examples of company culture. Establishing and maintaining a company culture covers a lot of business ground – everything from recruitment procedures to breakroom protocol, and from operational systems to dress codes.

When planning to hire a new team member, focus on how well that prospective employee will fit into your company culture. Some thrive with strict processes and finite measures of success, like monthly quotas. Others prefer a more relaxed approach to business, with a ping-pong table set up to energize creative juices. Hiring the right type of person makes a lot more sense than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. An employee who’s not a good fit for your company won’t stay long, and then you’ll have to start the hiring process all over again.

Interviewing applicants for positions at every level – from entry-level to top-tier managers – should focus on the applicant’s personal traits and characteristics. Then, develop a list of employment interview questions to determine if an applicant would be a good fit with the right skills and the right mindset to integrate into your company culture.

Typical questions during an interview to determine the applicant’s most essential workplace needs often delve into past career experiences. Here are some examples:

What was the work environment you most enjoyed in the past? This opens the discussion of workplace protocols, and to a lesser extent, a discussion of what the prospect looks for in a workplace.

Describe your favorite manager. This reveals the management style under which the prospect is most comfortable working. Ask the applicant to describe the character traits a favorite manager had. Does your business encourage those same management tactics?

What do you like most about your current job? If the applicant is applying for a bookkeeping position, precision and the satisfaction of well-maintained records should top the applicant’s list.

How would previous coworkers describe your work style? Are you looking at a lone wolf who doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, but also doesn’t play by your rules? Or, are you interviewing a prospect who works to fit in, but is reluctant to take business risks? How does the candidate see herself, and does it fit with your company culture?

What are your expectations of senior management? This question can reveal just how well a prospect is going to work with existing business systems. The applicant explains that she wants regular input and evaluation, but also prefers to chart her own course, or the candidate explains that he wants detailed statements of work, constructive criticism, and the opportunity to grow within the company. Each of these responses provides insight into the workplace values of candidates.

What would previous managers like to see you do less of? It’s a nice way of asking the applicant what’s your No. 1 professional weakness, but the answer can be very revealing in assessing the applicant’s self-image and self-awareness.

Hire employees who can quickly adapt to your company culture so you can maintain levels of productivity and lessen the learning curve for new members of the business team. These new employees should be able to integrate seamlessly into the team and support your business goals.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC