The Top 5 Cultural Fit Scenes from Hollywood...
ASK THE CAPITALIST: I've Been a Solo HR Consultant, How Do I Get a Company to Hire Me As an HR Leader?

Cut the B.S. and Evaluate The "Fit" of Potential Hires With Just 2 Questions...

We're doing a Cultural/Motivational Fit Month over at my company - Kinetix.  Re-running this post today here since it fits that theme.  Head over to our blog at Kinetix, Tremendous Upside, to get more nuggets on evaluating cultural and motivational fit on your candidates and sign up to see the themes we talk about each month...


When it comes to interviewing, Larry King you are not...

When it comes to the workplace, there's a lot of theory out there regarding the best way to interview candidates.  Whether it's a Behavioral Interview, a Skill-Based Interview or an interview filled with hypothetical questions, everyone's got a system.  Most hiring managers in my experience ask way too many hypothetical questions (examples - "How do you deal with low-performing employees?"), a style I'm critical of since it's so easy to BS your way through that type of interview.

The fact that hypothetical questions are easy to fake (No strengths?  Just make some up and sell it baby!) gave rise to the behavioral interview, which attempts to cut through the hype/spin by asking candidates about specific experiences they have had.  Unfortunately, the Behavioral Interview is only as good as the interviewer.  You can ask a behavioral question ("Tell me about a time you had to tell your boss they were wrong), but if the interviewee gives you hypothetical soft stuff back, you've got to have the ability to interrogate/grind on them about what they actually did when faced with that situation.  In my experience, even those with a lot of in-house training are limited in their ability to grind on a candidate.  Feels too much like interrogation.  Most of us hate confrontation...

What's my solution?  I'm a believer in the Behavioral Interview, but if I had only five minutes with aLarry_king2 candidate, I'd ask them the following two questions:

-Tell me when you have been most satisfied in your career...

-Tell me when you have been least satisfied in your career...

Those two questions measure Motivational Fit and are stunning in their simplicity.  Assuming you like the background and experiences of the candidate and are confident they can do the job, you really only need to evaluate if your company, the specific opportunity and the candidate are a fit for each other.  So ask these questions one at a time.  Once you get the response from the candidate, ask "why?" and say "tell me more" multiple times.  Then, s.h.u.t. u.p.   Seriously - stop talking.  Don't bail the candidate out, but rather force them to tell you what really jazzes them about jobs and companies, and subsequently, what drives them crazy.

Once you get that, you'll have what you need.  Candidate likes a a lot of structure, but all you can provide is that circus you call a company?  Move on.   Candidate likes to play ping-pong for 4 hours a day, but your CEO walks around evaluating if people are working hard enough by how unhappy they look?  Probably not going to work out.

Give it a try and spend at least 5 minutes on each item.  You'll be shocked at the value of what candidates tell you in response to these simple questions. 



I have started asking candidates what they like best and least about their current position and like that you expanded it to career. One question I asked on my last hire was, "Think back to when you were so engaged in an activity that you lost track of time. What were you doing? Tell me about it."


Great Post!


I actually like to do Life Experience interviewing. Take the resume and go through it asking why did you do this, why did you do that, why did you leave, what did you like about this, etc. It gets them into talking a narrative and opening up - you will see opportunities arise for deeper probes - which I feel are invaluable in assessing a persons character and drive. And yes, listen, and facilitate them speaking with short one word responses or head nods, anything to keep them talking, keep them on a role. Remember, most interviewers like candidates better when the interviewer talks more (because we love talking about ourselves!), so a wiley interviewee may try to set you up to talk too much. Don't.


I have tried doing this type of interviewing for about six months. You would be surprised just how many people are not acquainted with the information they provide on their resumes. I get my basic material directly from their resume and ask the questions formulated from said material. Many times they stammer about looking for an answer which tells me almost immediately if they would be a good hire. It is a good measure of their abilities coupled with the questions suggested above. I feel good about my decisions based on the interview process.

Michael Haberman

Hey Kris. I like these questions and I am going to incorporate them into my mostly behavrioral interviews. I am also going to get clients to use them as well. I mentioned this in my blog and put a link to yours as well.


For a value-based analysis, ask the candidate a question like this, "John, I know if you were offered this position and accepted it, that you would never (fill in the blank), isn't that right?" The blank can be something that this person has responsibility for, such as control of money, merchandise, purchasing, etc,. It is basically validating that they are honest and operate with integrity. The candidate always say "Yes, that is correct, I would never do that." They ask, "Why not". You are looking at whether the reason they are honest or have integrity is intrinsically based or extrinsically based. The intrinsic answer sounds something like, "I was raised to ..... or I could not live with myself if I did...." This is the better answer. The extrinsic answer sounds like this, "I would not want to lose my job...go to jail, etc". This answer is problematic in that people are very creative, and if they figure out how to bypass the consequences, ie not get caught, then it is a need and opportunity equation, which easily leads to the event. The moral of the story is that values count.

Donna-Maria Walker, MS

Just stumbled across your blog. LOVE it! Thanks for great info.

Donna-Maria Walker
Strategic Communications


"s.h.u.t. u.p."

Great advice. Hard to do when the candidate is struggling. Most of us want the candidate to do well.



One wise old man once asked me only one question and allowed me to takes as much or as little time as I wanted to reply: he asked "Who are you?".

Love your questions.

Paul from Montreal

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