The Definitive Guide to Aligning Your Interview Strategy

“Interviewing remains one of those activities which we think we know all about merely because we have been doing it so long; we have been lulled by habit,” — according to the Harvard Business Review.1

If you are a talent acquisition professional, reinvigorating stale interviewing habits with freshly baked strategies may help align your organization’s culture to the interview process.

Intended as a precursor to behavioral interviewing and assessments, the following six points are particularly designed to bolster the candidate evaluation processes, ensuring candidates with competencies that are a culture mesh.

1. Be globally transparent about your culture.

Provide global transparency by populating digital media and other social outlets with your organization’s culture and brand message, including focus, mission and values. Start by developing a Glassdoor profile, consistently publishing company updates and interacting with Glassdoor reviews.

These proactive measures help attract culture-fit candidates well ahead of the interview. Likewise, they can help weed out those individuals that are not intuitively drawn to your culture persona.

2. Plan for candidates’ questions about culture.

“Because they know a fit is a two-way street, informed candidates ask pertinent questions,” according to a Glassdoor for Employers resource guide.

An openly expressed culture will equip recruiters and candidates alike with specific culture-fit talk points and questions during the interview. Candidates’ well-thought-out questions about your culture shine a light on their due diligence, further cementing their fit (or lack of fit) with your enterprise.

Shelly Goldman, Executive Recruiter and Founder, Goldman Group Advantage, encourages recruiters to take this conversation a step further to build trust with the candidate. “Articulate how your company’s culture, focus, mission and values can provide the underpinning for a successful career.”

3. Identify what’s currently working.

By extracting culture-trait threads from recent company wins, you can knit together patterns with which to align future employees to your team, according to Kathryn Lorenzen, Senior Recruiting Consultant and Career Coach, LandaJob Marketing, Creative & Digital Talent. “Look at what’s already worked. Who has been successful in your organization, and what experiences, skills and traits have contributed to that success?”

With that intel in hand, you can prepare questions and conversation points that home in on candidates who are a culture fit. Moreover, making this a regular practice ensures that as your teams’ achievements evolve over the years, the culture-trend patterns also will adapt.

4. Seek out opportunities to diversify your team.

While a company’s culture may often be defined in concise sound bites, profiles and tweets, be careful not to box in the culture parameters. In other words, consider the organic nature of your culture and how opportunities to diversify the workforce may help the company progress, over time.

“Look for gaps or opportunities,” suggests Lorenzen. “If the team is comprised primarily of one type of person or background, is there something to be gained by seeking diversity in age, ethnicity, gender or subject matter expertise? Some teams deliberately choose someone from a different industry to introduce fresh thinking.”

5. Mirror the interview process with your company’s operational persona.

Construct candidate meetings in line with how your company operates and makes decisions on a day-to-day basis. Doing so melds operational culture into the interview process, helping to identify candidates who align well — and also those who do not.

Lorenzen suggests examining whether your organization is hierarchical (information shared through established channels) or flatter (a more matrixed information flow). With that in mind, “you may decide there’s an advantage to having the interview process authentically reflect the operational personality of the organization — including how many and which people are involved, the structure of candidate meetings, and who has a voice in the hiring decision.”

6. Demonstrate your cultural advantage.

Waiting until you are face-to-face to scan a candidate’s resume after they have jumped through hoops to provide an updated career portfolio can leave harmful cultural residue. This may damage otherwise well strategized efforts to attract best-fit individuals. Goldman suggests that to prevent this happening recruiters should prepare before the interview, internalizing the candidate’s background and comparing it to the position the company is trying to fill.

“Know in advance what you’d like to ask each individual candidate and be prepared to ask new questions based on what information a candidate shares during the meeting,” suggests Goldman. “When you show a candidate from your actions that they and their time are important to you and your company, you are giving that candidate a look into what they can expect from the company in the future.”

Don’t Forget

  • Globally communicate your company’s culture attributes every single day to attract right-fit candidates.
  • Listen closely for evidence that candidates have researched, understood and embraced your culture.
  • Prepare vigorously to respond to candidates’ culture-related questions.
  • Weed out candidates who are not aligned with culture.
  • Ferret out current team members’ culture attributes and experiences and leverage that information during interviews.
  • Introduce fresh thinking by seeking diversity in candidates.
  • Integrate your company’s operational culture into your interview process, including how many and which people are involved in the hiring decision-making process.
  • Expect the same interview prep of yourself as you require of your candidates. Exude your culture of respect by reviewing candidate credentials ‘before’ the interview.

Final Thoughts.

In this robust market with unemployment at 3.5%,2 lower than it’s been in nearly 50 years, candidates have many job options. With that in mind, presenting clear employer brand advantages is imperative to a successful interview process.


1 Source: Trull, Samuel G., “Strategies of Effective Interviewing,” Harvard Business Review, January, 1964.
2 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.