How to Create Interview Questions on Culture

As I walked through the entry way to the lobby, I noticed Miguel had posted the list of values in a cheap plastic frame next to the Mission Statement. I ducked into the conference room. Miguel sat up. “I know, I know,” he said. “At least it’s a start.”

I stared at him. “No impact. It’s not even a start!”

The rest of the management team huddled around, taking their places at the table. “Look,” I continued. “You have done a lot of work, but until you breathe some life into these values, communicate them as part of your culture, you might as well have stayed in bed.”

We worked the values list for thirty minutes, and in that short time, a series of ideas was constructed. There were details and accountabilities.

Hiring topped everyone’s list. That meant identifying behaviors connected with those values and constructing interview questions for those behaviors. We spent ten minutes brainstorming those questions. Interestingly, that ten minutes revealed more about the meaning of those values and how they would positively impact culture than any framed poster on the wall.

On teamwork, we asked ourselves, “How does a person behave, who values teamwork?” Then we constructed questions for those behaviors.

  • Tell me about a project you worked on, where teamwork was important?
  • What was the project?
  • How long was the project?
  • How many people on the team?
  • What was your role on the team?
  • What was the critical element in this project that made teamwork important?
  • When the team worked well together, what was happening?
  • When the team did not work well together, what was happening?
  • What did the team adjust to work better together?
  • What did you, personally, have to adjust to make the team work better together?

We amplified those questions by circulating an email copy to several other committees and groups in the company. We got lots of feedback and suggestions for more questions. Values are important, but you cannot interview for values, you can only interview for behaviors (connected to those values).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *