PGAs of EuropeInterviews – PGAs of Europe Home of the PGAE Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:07:33 +0000 en-gb hourly 1 6 Ways to Find Out Whether a Job Candidate Will Fit Your Company’s Culture Wed, 14 Jun 2017 12:23:18 +0000 Found an applicant with the right skills? Time for a culture interview. You know that job applicant has the right skills to fill your open position...]]>

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of The Geek Gap, and former president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She lives in Snohomish, Washington. Like this post? Sign up here for a once-a-week email and you’ll never miss her columns.


You know that job applicant has the right skills to fill your open position. But what about the right personality? Ignore cultural fit at your peril, for your new hire likely won’t last long.

I’ll always remember one of my co-workers at my first company. Although she did excellent work, she seemed to zig while the rest of us zagged. In a group of frumpy, often pudgy writers, she was an accomplished martial artist. Where many of us were just getting our feet wet in the business world, she had been around for a while and worked in some legendary places. Where we tended toward the silly-a plastic-encased slice of prosciutto once spent a week tacked to our department’s bulletin board-she was deadly serious. Not surprisingly, she soon moved on to a job at a prestigious non-profit that was working hard to change the world.

Hiring someone who doesn’t fit your company’s personality can be a very costly mistake. To avoid making that mistake, make sure to interview job candidates for cultural fit, as well as job qualifications. That advice comes from Tara Kelly, CEO of customer experience software provider SPLICE Software.

Kelly makes sure to include a culture interview in the hiring process, and she says it’s made a big difference. “It is important to understand employee values, motivators and interests,” she explains. “Understanding what keeps employees fulfilled is a key element to build a truly successful team. Whereas regular job interviews focus on verifying qualifications, culture fit interviews focus on ensuring potential candidates fit the corporate culture and core values of the organization.”

Given that every new hire is a big investment, it’s worth taking the time and effort to interview for cultural fit as well as skills and experience. Here’s how Kelly does it:

1. Define your company’s culture.

You may not need to do this, and Kelly doesn’t mention it, but if yours is a small or start-up companies, your culture may not be something you’ve given a lot of thought to. You should, though, because you definitely have one and a bad cultural hire will hurt you.

Your mission or vision statement is a good place to start-it won’t define your culture, but it should identify the values that drive you and your employees to show up and work hard every day. Beyond that, take a look around and consider how your company compares to others in your industry. Ask your employees or colleagues for input, until you can come up with a sentence or two that captures your company’s personality. Consider this example from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: “Our culture is friendly and intense, but if push comes to shove we’ll settle for intense.”

2. Write job ads with culture in mind.

“Culture fit should be integrated into every aspect of recruitment,” Kelly notes. That begins with your job ads, which should reflect both your company’s brand and its culture. If yours is an informal, family friendly workplace, with child care on site, and where pets are welcomed, say so. If yours is an elegant workplace with a prestigious history, say that.

3. Include culture questions in regular interviews.

From your first conversations with a candidate, interviewers should be thinking about cultural fit, Kelly says. “Once applications are assessed, pre-screening interviews should occur over the phone to see what first impressions candidates make and gauge personality for a possible fit.”

Candidates who pass this screening should be invited to an in-person interview with their potential department head. “The department head should also screen the applicant for culture by introducing a few less technical questions,” she adds.

4. Know which questions to ask, and which not to.

“Ask questions that speak to the core values and culture of the organization, without directly asking about each value,” Kelly advises. “For example, ask ‘what is something you have accomplished this summer that you are really proud of?'” This type of question helps SPLICE find candidates who like to learn new things or improve their skills. “At SPLICE, we really value a love of learning and improving things,” Kelly explains. “Our fundamental core value is, ‘We believe it can be better.’ So we like to see that not only in someone’s work life but their personal life too.”

It should go without saying that there’s a difference between culture and bias, and you should be clear about that difference, especially when it comes to questions that could land your company in legal trouble. To say that your culture is fun-loving and risk-taking is fine; to say that all employees should participate in extreme sports means your workplace discriminates against disabled or older workers.

In Amazon’s we’ll-settle-for-intense culture, an employee who’d just had a miscarriage was told by her supervisor that the company was likely the wrong place for a woman looking to start a family. Not surprisingly, many labor lawyers have been contacted by current or past employees seeking to sue the company for attitudes like these. Someday, one of these suits will get filed.

5. Train employees to conduct culture interviews.

“Once it is verified that a candidate has all the necessary qualifications and has passed all the preliminary culture fit screenings, a culture fit interview should be introduced as the last phase of the process,” Kelly says.

But you’re not the one to conduct the culture fit interview-the candidate’s potential co-workers are. That means they’ll need some training about what to ask and what to listen for. “It’s crucial to ensure the team is prepped on the purpose of a culture fit interview prior to participating,” Kelly says.

In general, she says, you should select four to six employees from around your company to talk informally with the job candidate about hobbies and interest and how these things tie in with your company’s personality. “Employees should be encouraged to ask questions that tie in to the organization’s value system.”

6. Gather feedback.

Employees who conduct a culture interview should fill out assessment afterwards that scores applicants on numerical scales of good-fit-to-bad-fit, and also ask for written comments. After you review those assessments, call the employees together for a quick debrief to make sure you understand their feedback and get a better sense of how the candidate might or might not fit with your company and its values. All of this input, together with the candidate’s performance on your skills assessment, will put you in the best position to make the right choice.

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6 Ways to Find Out Whether a Job Candidate Will Fit Your Company’s Culture
How to answer…’Tell me why you want this job’ Thu, 27 Oct 2016 08:35:50 +0000 Coaching4Careers Unlike some interview tests, there are no traps or hidden agendas; it's about answering truthfully but in a way that reflects well on you and on the role...]]>

Whether you’re new to all this or an experienced career professional, this represents one of the more important interview questions you can expect to face as a job seeker. Unlike some interview tests, there are no traps or hidden agendas to be worried about; it’s about answering truthfully but in a way that reflects well on you and on the role itself.

Here are some DOs and DON’Ts to be aware of in forming your answer:


Understand what they’re looking for

Whatever the specifics of your answer, it needs to align with what the employer is hoping to gain in advertising for the position. Research the organisation, their recent activity and where they’re headed. For example, if the firm has recently gained a new client or entered a new market, you could refer to recent projects where you’ve helped break new ground.

Show your passion

Above all else, a recruiter or hiring manager is looking for genuine enthusiasm for the position and for the organisation itself. Try to work a little of your personal ‘story’ into your response; a typical answer might read: “I’ve always been ambitious and curious and I wanted my first full-time position to be with a firm at the forefront of harnessing new technologies, like cloud computing.”

Talk about your goals

Accompanying this should be a logical argument about what you hope to achieve with the organisation over the coming years. You want to demonstrate that you’ve thought clearly about your decision to apply and how it fits into your long-term aspirations – e.g. “I’m looking to add emerging market experience to my CV and I’d be excited to help the company expand in this region.”


Give generic answers

Be careful not to rely on stock answers you may have heard others give, which can be a common pitfall, particularly when reaching out to a number of employers in the same field. Try to express specific qualities about the firm rather than relying on buzzwords like ‘dynamic’ or ‘market-leading’.

Focus on the wrong areas

While the compensation, holiday allowance and other perks you may receive will naturally be at the back of your mind, allowing these concerns to take centre stage could undermine how you feel (or what the recruiter thinks you feel) about the role.

Offer irrelevant information

Likewise, talking about skills or interests that bear little relevance to the job may also detract from your hiring chances and may imply you haven’t spent sufficient time investigating the role or employer. A classic case might be talking about a university research project you worked on in isolation when teamwork is critical to the role.

To summarise, your response to this age-old inquiry should be an opportunity to showcase what you understand about a job position and how it relates to your skills and passions. So long as your interest in the role is genuine, with a little thought and time investment there’s no reason you can’t make this question work to your advantage.

This content appears courtesy of Abintegro, experts in career management, transition technology & e-learning for today’s modern, mobile and technology-savvy workforce – Find out more at


How to answer…’Tell me why you want this job’
Controlling Your Interview Body Language Wed, 26 Oct 2016 08:32:40 +0000 Coaching4Careers Working on your body language prior to an interview, client meeting or any other stressful public event can have considerable benefits]]>

Unless you’re someone who dreams of being on The Apprentice, a job interview can potentially be a nerve-racking and uncomfortable experience. The stress it generates can cause your body language to go haywire and send out unintended signals to the person reading them. Your feeling nervous or shy, for example, may be interpreted as defensiveness or aloofness.

Working on your body language prior to an interview, client meeting or any other stressful public event can have considerable benefits. Just acting more relaxed and confident can trick your mind into following suit. Here are some techniques for getting your body onside for when it matters.

Plan Your Entrance

30 seconds is reportedly how long it takes for some hiring managers to make up their mind, so how you greet your interviewer is crucial. A strong handshake goes without saying, while smiling and maintaining eye contact also helps to display confidence. Practice your entrance in the mirror (preferably when no one is watching…).

Develop Your Eye Contact

If you don’t make eye contact people don’t trust you, but for many of us it’s a struggle, particularly when we’re nervous. Also if you are deliberately trying to hold eye contact with anybody it can make you feel incredibly self conscious and more likely to start looking at the ceiling. So practice when you’re out with friends by choosing a point on the centre of their face to look at, round about the bridge of their nose. It’ll help you to relax and become less self conscious; they will never know and you’ll find yourself making eye contact effortlessly.

Aim For a Relaxed Approach

Crossing your arms, sitting too far back or forward and averting your gaze can mean you come across as defensive, arrogant or disinterested – unlikely to be what you are going for! So along with your new-found eye contact skills, use some relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing just before the interview to help keep your nerves in check. And remember to sit up, keep your posture open and smile. It will make you feel more ‘in the zone’ and happier.

Stay Focused

Feeling nervous or self conscious can lead to involuntary movements – shaking your foot, rubbing your neck or rocking back in your chair – which can undermine the composed image your are trying to portray. Becoming aware of your body language in group situations should give you an idea of the kind of things to watch out for. Find an alternative action, such as taking a deep breath and adjusting your posture when you catch yourself making one of these unwanted movements.

Hopefully, a little pre-planning and preparation can take much of the stress out of the big day. With your body language in check, all that’s left is for you to wow your interviewer into believing you’re the right person for the job. Piece of cake, right?

This content appears courtesy of Abintegro, experts in career management, transition technology & e-learning for today’s modern, mobile and technology-savvy workforce – Find out more at


Controlling Your Interview Body Language