Last time, I raised the question of how to prepare to interview in a way that illustrates the all-important cultural fit with a company. What makes this a complex issue is that having a strong set of values that guide your actions and explaining those values are two different things.
I especially like to ask candidates about past failures as I try to understand cultural fit. Take this question for example:
Tell me about a time you were coaching and mentoring someone but they did not take the advice?
Here are a couple sample responses:
1. I am an achiever. I go for 110% in everything that I do and I want to build teams that do the same. Mary was a direct report with the opposite approach. She was happy to plod along at a steady pace. I got to know her, built a rapport, and then began demonstrating how the job was to be done. How could she trust my advice if I did not demonstrate that I could do the task? She came to understand the expectation but could not bring in the results and I terminated her.
2. These are tough questions because I don’t want to fail my friends and colleagues. As a leader, I feel it is my job to serve those around me, sometimes it does not work out. I was working with the great guy who had just switched industries. I took him under my wing to teach him the ins and out of the market. I first set the expectations of the role clearly and asked him a lot of questions to ensure I understood where he would need help.
We walked away from that meeting with a plan. He had tasks and so did I. Over the next few months, I delivered the training and development he needed. But he often fell short on his end. I would let him know he was not meeting expectations and we would discuss. He would re-commit and we would have a few strong weeks but ultimately he did not work out. I had very high hopes for the situation but I am sure he is better off now.
These are obviously two very different leaders. If the organization was a fast paced, take no prisoners type of organization, candidate one would prosper. But more organizations value humble leaders with a passion for making others successful. That is where candidate two would be a cultural fit.
Ensure that you can know your own values and you will be able to weave those values into your interview responses and get a job that has the right cultural fit for you.
Photo by wilhei