Top 5 pre-screen questions for culture-first hiring

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If you think the way we do at Growmotely, you share the view that people are the most important part of any business. Which means hiring the right people, who align with the organization’s culture (what we call a ‘culture-first’ approach to hiring) has to be a top priority.

Less is more, in our opinion, when it comes to hiring within a smaller, growing company. Less applicants, who’re more engaged and better matched. Especially with a literal world of talent to chose from, we believe in speaking with the people who are most excited about working with you, most engaged in your mission and vision, and share your values.

When you post a role on Growmotely, applicants need to answer a set of pre-screen questions in order to apply. We do this as part of curating a more engaged talent pool, and to create a better experience for both you and your applicants. Job hunting sucks, and even more so when you’re one of a thousand applicants. Hiring also sucks if you’re bombarded with ill-fitting candidates that take precious hours to sift through, hours that could instead be spent getting to know genuinely interested and engaged applicants.

Here’s our 5 favorite pre-screen questions to ask (and why):

  1. Which of our values most aligns with your personal values, and why?
  2. What excites you most about working with us?
  3. Highlight one aspect of your past experience that you think makes you a great fit for this role?
  4. Why are you looking for a new opportunity at this time?
  5. What’s the most important thing for you when it comes to your next job?

Which of our values most aligns with your personal values, and why?
Alignment is key for success at work. This questions encourages the candidate to review the company’s values and think about whether or not they do share the values. If we’re truly living by our company values, and they’re alive and well within the team, answers to this question will help us discover candidates who will fit within the culture of the organization. 

What excites you most about working with us?
Once again, we’re looking for alignment so this questions helps to gain an understanding as to how well the candidate knows the company. Their answer will give some insight as to whether they really understand what we do, and to discover why it’s exciting for them. As leaders of smaller companies, it’s critically important we find people who are as passionate about what we’re build as we are – bonus is, they’ll be happier too. 

Highlight one aspect of your past experience that you think makes you a great fit for this role?
This questions gives candidates an opportunity to bridge the gap for you, or make a connection for you, between something in their past experience and what you’re looking for. We like this especially for the situations where someone may be heading in a different direction career-wise but we can see they’ve been thoughtful about their past experiences and transferrable skills. It can also give us a chance to discover what they think is important about the role and if that aligns with things we feel are important.

Why are you looking for a new opportunity at this time?
We like this question as it gives candidates the space to share some of their recent career and life journey. There’s no right or wrong answer, but it can give context for what they’re looking for next (and whether or not we can deliver on that). There are many reasons people are looking for new opportunities, sometimes it’s professional growth, sometimes it’s returning to work after a break, and this question is helpful for us to start to get to know them alongside their career history.  

What’s the most important thing for you when it comes to your next job? While it’s nice to ask specifically what candidates are aligned with when it comes to our company, and our values, it’s also important to start to get a feel for what’s important to them. If it’s something we just can’t offer then it’s better we know this upfront (especially if it’s the MOST important thing for them), on the upside we may discover we embody exactly the thing they’re looking for. It’s all about alignment!

Of course, none of these questions are the be all and end all, but they give us a chance to learn more about applicants and why they might align with both our company culture and the role we’re hiring for. When reviewing pre-screen answers move away from a mindset of judging a person, and toward a mindset of looking for alignment with the vision, purpose and values of the company in what they share and how they frame things.

Ultimately, we’re about ensuring people are happy and thriving at work, and they will be if they have both the skills and experience to perform well, and feel aligned with what the company stands for and how they show up for each other and in the world (culture-first baby!).


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