What you do off the clock might matter more than what you do while on it.
Well, you finally earned that college degree from Enormous State University and landed an interview with that company you’ve dreamed about for years. Your suit is cleaned and pressed and your hair looks like you just got out of the barber’s chair. You have done your research, know your worth and you’re so sure of yourself that you’re ready to negotiate a salary. You’ve rehearsed answers to every possible question and delivered them with confidence.
But then you are asked:
What is your favorite movie?
What’s the last book you read?
Where’s the last place you went on vacation?
What TV shows do you watch most often?
They are questions that you wouldn’t hesitate to answer on a date or when you’re trying to get a phone number, but in this setting, on a job interview, you’re thrown. The reality is that they are becoming more common by the day.
The term “culture fit” has turned into a popular buzz word among human resource professionals. The idea is that for a company to remain functional, let alone profitable, its employees must be on the same page or at least in the same chapter. So if you’re looking for a job in IT and you have all the necessary skills, you still may be passed over for someone who has more in common with the staff already there. It’s like the guy who never came to class but could charm the teacher into giving him an A.
With the job market forcing more companies to be creative and strategic with their hires, it’s important to prepare for the “culture fit” queries. Knowing how to answer the question can be more valuable than having the right answer.
Here’s how to approach some “culture” fit questions from Mergers and Acquisitions and About.com.
(For the record, if you are asked to name your favorite movie, please, never, under any circumstances, say Menace II Society.)
Q: So, what do you like to do outside of work?
A: You don’t have to get specific, but at least give some indication that you have a life and an active one at that. If you need to, erase those Facebook photos from that wild weekend in Vegas.
Q: What is your preferred work style?
A: This is your chance to really find out what you’re getting yourself into. Be honest with them, but also follow up by asking what their work environment is like as well.
Q: “I understand that you played (insert sport here). Do you still play recreationally?”
A: If you put that you lettered in high school football on your resume, be ready to talk about it. Many companies like to gather up employees and participate in friendly recreational activities like running, basketball or tennis. Taking part will allow for more communication and camaraderie with colleagues.
Q: Those are some nice shoes, where did you get them?
A: Say thank you of course. If you can’t remember, don’t waste time trying to. If you’ve had them forever, you can say that. Whatever the case, unless you’re interviewing to be a fashion blogger, don’t spend too much time going on and on about your personal style. The question is meant to see how much value you place on material things.