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What are your favorite interview questions to determine culture/personality fit?

Hiring is literally one of the most important parts of my day to day. What I've realized is that it's not that difficult to figure out if someone is smart. It's much more difficult to figure out if they are curious and will go the extra mile on a regular basis. Wondering what your favorite interview questions are to draw this or other cultural fit type characteristics out. Just asking people straight out isn't a good way ;)

15 Replies

Celu Ramasamy
3
0
Celu Ramasamy Entrepreneur
FX Artist/Developer at DreamWorks Animation
may be asking about what kind of personal projects they have worked on and observing how much they light up about it? :)
Jimmy Jacobson
2
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Jimmy Jacobson Entrepreneur
Full Stack Developer and Cofounder at Wedgies.com
We used a startup weekend to interview our last hire. A hackathon or other event is an amazing way to judge personality fit and work habits of a potential employee. Sent from my iJimmy http://twitter.com/jimmyjacobson
AJAY BAM
2
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AJAY BAM Entrepreneur
Ceo and Co-founder at Vyrill Inc
I always ask two questions - one open ended and one not.

1. Open ended question - Tell me your story and how you ended up here? Personal stories can demonstrate passion in what they do/or have done. Stories also tell me on what they believe in, who they enjoyed working for and where they want to take their life. This translates to measuring culture fit..

2. I find that curious people are proactive in life and ask good questions during the interview. Thus, I ask them about what they would like to know about me and the company that is not listed on the site or on my linkedIn profile...
Robert Victor
2
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Robert Victor Entrepreneur
Founder and CTO at PebblePost
I usually turn one of my business problems into a case interview style question.
I often used this method in Product Management interviews and have adapted it to suit almost any level and role of employee.

Anyone smart has a rehearsed answer to open ended personality questions or prepared "intelligent" questions about my business. It's best to shake things up.

Using a real business situation keeps people from feeling like they're being interviewed, putting them at ease and allows me to evaluate their ability and interest to work through a challenge.

Here's an example: Some people that visit our site go directly to the pricing page and leave. How do we make sure they read more of the home page content first or convert them to customers from pricing?





Juan Posada
2
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Juan Posada Entrepreneur • Advisor
Technology executive, startup advisor and entrepreneur. Also a garage tinkerer and maker movement supporter.
Two of my favorites are "what did you do to prepare for our conversation today" and "what haven't I asked you that you would like me to know".
Vijay Goel, MD
0
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Vijay Goel, MD Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)
Agree with Robert in that I love a case interview. Anyone who can't structure a problem or gives me vague or superficial answers is already on their way out.

Usually I'll try to focus on something "crazy", so a generic and straightforward approach is unfeasible. This then begins to test how they think when "edge" stuff happens. If they can lay out what they'd do along a range of budget shrinking 75% through budget quadrupling (and related expectations in line or higher) then I have a sense that this person can work through uncertainty and change.
Juan Posada
0
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Juan Posada Entrepreneur • Advisor
Technology executive, startup advisor and entrepreneur. Also a garage tinkerer and maker movement supporter.
I agree that case studies are hugely valuable, but I don't find them particularly helpful from a personality/culture fit perspective. Rather, they allow me to assess the candidate's ability to think on their feet and creatively solve problems/adapt, but I guess I see that as closer to skills/smarts than I do to personality/culture. Typically I will come up with a hypothetical case study about some topic that I know the candidate has some interest in/knowledge of but which is unrelated to the job. For instance, if someone lists snowboarding as a hobby I will create a hypothetical case as a product manager at Burton. That way I won't allow information asymmetry (candidate knowa way more than I do about a subject, or the other way around) to interfere with my assessment of the candidate's answers.
Ron Spreeuwenberg
0
0
Ron Spreeuwenberg Entrepreneur
Strategy and Operations Specialist. CEO of HiMama.
Check out www.clearfit.com.... and ask them what book they're currently reading! :)
Mark Silva
0
0
Mark Silva Entrepreneur
Finance & Operations at KITE
Great thread. Fit is essential in early-stage. Fact is your brand will largely be defined by how & what your first 10-20 hires execute and there's no room for splintering in culture or objectives.

When I started RealBeer.com in '94, I'd usually meet up at a pub and whatever the candidate ordered was the cultural fit. Even if they ordered a non-craft/specialty beer, there was a story of passion behind it. If the candidate couldn't go long and deep on the discussion, I'd have pause for fit.

When we ran Real Branding, a digital marketing agency, we'd talk about what the candidate considered great in their direct work, their experience or opinion. If they couldn't go long and deep on that discussion, I'd have pause for fit.

I have a similar barometer for our latest company, Ryse. Thanks for the fellow contributors. Good read.
Matt Mireles
3
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Matt Mireles Entrepreneur • Advisor
I have a rule: Don't hire anyone until you've seen them drunk.

This goes for co-founders and the first ~10 employees. Beyond that, it's difficult to scale this practice. The beauty, however, is that by getting sloshed with a potential hire, you get to understand the person's true motivation and character. It's easy to put on airs in an interview process, but after drink #3, that gets tough.


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