December 10, 2020
6 min read

Step 5: How to Assess for Cultural Fit & Soft Skills

If you’ve come here from Step 4 of our guide to recruiting web and software engineers, you’ve already vetted candidates for technical competence.


That brings us to the next step, which is to weed out all remaining applicants who aren’t a good fit for the company’s culture.


Another way of putting this is that you’re getting rid of those who lack the soft skills necessary for them to thrive and contribute to your organisation.


Such skills may include independence, leadership, collaborative abilities, etc. These are just as important as technical skills. In many cases, they may even be more so!


In fact, we’ll talk about that first to show what informed our steps for this stage of recruitment: we’ll show why cultural fit is so important. Afterwards, we’ll dive into how you can screen for it in your recruitment funnel.

Why Does Cultural Fit Matter?

Simply speaking, it counts because technical ability isn’t the only (or even best) predictor of employee performance.

After all, no matter how technically capable someone is, it won’t matter if they have the wrong character for a posting. If they require close oversight but have been hired for an agile and independent development position, for instance, things will go awry.

In the same vein, you need people who share your organisation’s core values so they can work better with the rest of the organisation.

Moreover, hiring for cultural fit can reduce the odds of job turnover, which means it can save your organisation money in the long term.

It can also lead to happier employees whose personal values align with those of the corporation and who like going to work… and studies have consistently shown that happy employees are more productive.

In short, there’s every reason to do your due diligence in this stage! It can benefit your company many times over.

A Quick Word on Biases vs. Cultural Fit

It’s necessary for us to offer a caveat before moving forward: biases should not be equated to cultural prerequisites when recruiting.

For example, as we’ve acknowledged in a previous article, tech jobs still tend to go mainly to male engineers or developers. This is in keeping with the historical trend of tech companies having predominantly male workforces.

One reason for that was the tendency for business owners or founders to hire within their own social networks. They also tended to look for those whose experiences were most like their own.

The problem is that this can result in a non-diverse workforce, and that’s not beneficial.

There’s no shortage of case studies now that prove the superiority of diverse workforces. They’re more innovative and thus better at problem-solving, among other things, especially because they offer multiple perspectives.

So, be certain that you’re not letting these biases into your screening methodology. Look for relevant soft skills like leadership or communication and great work ethics.

How to Assess Applicants for Cultural Fit

Now we can move on to how you should assess applicants for cultural fit. Some argue that you can use personality or psychological tests for these, but there’s still nothing better than an interview for this part of screening.

You can do it in person, over the phone, or even via a video call. In that interview, you can ask a number of questions and assess their responses to those afterwards to see who “passed” or “failed”.

Let’s start by explaining what sorts of queries you can ask. After that, we’ll go over how to standardise the interviews and post-interview assessments.

Questions to Ask for the Screening

You want to ask behavioural, open-ended questions. Invite interviewees to elaborate on responses with follow-up questions too so you can get more information.

Here are examples of questions you can ask, as well as what they help you determine or learn about the interviewee:

  • What is your preferred work style? Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team, and can you give examples of previous jobs where you had to do either?
    These can help you figure out if they’re good at collaborating with others, as well as what style of collaboration they prefer to implement when working in a team.
  • What have you done in past jobs to personally contribute to a product or an organisation for which you were working?
    This is a good way to figure out if they have the ability to take initiative where they see an opportunity to improve something, or how well they do at innovative thinking.
  • Do you do anything outside of the workplace to improve yourself as a web/software engineer?
    This can give you insight into their drive to improve and actual dedication to their field.
  • Have you ever been in a situation where a coworker or even superior disagreed with you on something in a project? How did you handle it?
    This can help you figure out how well they work with others, as well as whether or not they can take critique or contradiction in a healthy way.

These are just a few possibilities, of course. You can come up with a list of your own options with the rest of your recruitment team.

Standardising Interviews and Assessments

Once you have a list of questions to ask applicants, standardise the process. First off, make sure you ask all applicants those queries.

You can even predefine follow-up questions to all of those, to further structure interviews. That way, you can try to reduce interview biases as much as possible.

After that, depending on your preferences, you can standardise the rating system. For example, some companies rate responses to interview questions on a scale of 1 to 5. Others prefer a simpler “Pass or Fail” approach.

Whichever you do use, make sure all members of the recruitment team assigned to interview assessment understand the rating system.

Moreover, ensure they know what the preferred responses or ideas are for each of the questions in the interview. That way, they know how to rate answers.

You can collate their ratings later on and use them to determine which applicants to reject or send to the next stage.

Obviously, this is a lot of work. A lot of organisations also find it challenging to develop a feasible pipeline for this stage of recruitment.

If you’d rather have specialists in tech recruitment handle it, feel free to reach out to us. We have extensive experience finding and screening tech talents for both technical and cultural fit.

We also have access to a huge community of the best Southeast Asian web and software engineers. So, contact us at Skilledd now to speed up your hiring!


If you’ve come here from Step 4 of our guide to recruiting web and software engineers, you’ve already vetted candidates for technical competence.


That brings us to the next step, which is to weed out all remaining applicants who aren’t a good fit for the company’s culture.


Another way of putting this is that you’re getting rid of those who lack the soft skills necessary for them to thrive and contribute to your organisation.


Such skills may include independence, leadership, collaborative abilities, etc. These are just as important as technical skills. In many cases, they may even be more so!


In fact, we’ll talk about that first to show what informed our steps for this stage of recruitment: we’ll show why cultural fit is so important. Afterwards, we’ll dive into how you can screen for it in your recruitment funnel.

Why Does Cultural Fit Matter?

Simply speaking, it counts because technical ability isn’t the only (or even best) predictor of employee performance.

After all, no matter how technically capable someone is, it won’t matter if they have the wrong character for a posting. If they require close oversight but have been hired for an agile and independent development position, for instance, things will go awry.

In the same vein, you need people who share your organisation’s core values so they can work better with the rest of the organisation.

Moreover, hiring for cultural fit can reduce the odds of job turnover, which means it can save your organisation money in the long term.

It can also lead to happier employees whose personal values align with those of the corporation and who like going to work… and studies have consistently shown that happy employees are more productive.

In short, there’s every reason to do your due diligence in this stage! It can benefit your company many times over.

A Quick Word on Biases vs. Cultural Fit

It’s necessary for us to offer a caveat before moving forward: biases should not be equated to cultural prerequisites when recruiting.

For example, as we’ve acknowledged in a previous article, tech jobs still tend to go mainly to male engineers or developers. This is in keeping with the historical trend of tech companies having predominantly male workforces.

One reason for that was the tendency for business owners or founders to hire within their own social networks. They also tended to look for those whose experiences were most like their own.

The problem is that this can result in a non-diverse workforce, and that’s not beneficial.

There’s no shortage of case studies now that prove the superiority of diverse workforces. They’re more innovative and thus better at problem-solving, among other things, especially because they offer multiple perspectives.

So, be certain that you’re not letting these biases into your screening methodology. Look for relevant soft skills like leadership or communication and great work ethics.

How to Assess Applicants for Cultural Fit

Now we can move on to how you should assess applicants for cultural fit. Some argue that you can use personality or psychological tests for these, but there’s still nothing better than an interview for this part of screening.

You can do it in person, over the phone, or even via a video call. In that interview, you can ask a number of questions and assess their responses to those afterwards to see who “passed” or “failed”.

Let’s start by explaining what sorts of queries you can ask. After that, we’ll go over how to standardise the interviews and post-interview assessments.

Questions to Ask for the Screening

You want to ask behavioural, open-ended questions. Invite interviewees to elaborate on responses with follow-up questions too so you can get more information.

Here are examples of questions you can ask, as well as what they help you determine or learn about the interviewee:

  • What is your preferred work style? Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team, and can you give examples of previous jobs where you had to do either?
    These can help you figure out if they’re good at collaborating with others, as well as what style of collaboration they prefer to implement when working in a team.
  • What have you done in past jobs to personally contribute to a product or an organisation for which you were working?
    This is a good way to figure out if they have the ability to take initiative where they see an opportunity to improve something, or how well they do at innovative thinking.
  • Do you do anything outside of the workplace to improve yourself as a web/software engineer?
    This can give you insight into their drive to improve and actual dedication to their field.
  • Have you ever been in a situation where a coworker or even superior disagreed with you on something in a project? How did you handle it?
    This can help you figure out how well they work with others, as well as whether or not they can take critique or contradiction in a healthy way.

These are just a few possibilities, of course. You can come up with a list of your own options with the rest of your recruitment team.

Standardising Interviews and Assessments

Once you have a list of questions to ask applicants, standardise the process. First off, make sure you ask all applicants those queries.

You can even predefine follow-up questions to all of those, to further structure interviews. That way, you can try to reduce interview biases as much as possible.

After that, depending on your preferences, you can standardise the rating system. For example, some companies rate responses to interview questions on a scale of 1 to 5. Others prefer a simpler “Pass or Fail” approach.

Whichever you do use, make sure all members of the recruitment team assigned to interview assessment understand the rating system.

Moreover, ensure they know what the preferred responses or ideas are for each of the questions in the interview. That way, they know how to rate answers.

You can collate their ratings later on and use them to determine which applicants to reject or send to the next stage.

Obviously, this is a lot of work. A lot of organisations also find it challenging to develop a feasible pipeline for this stage of recruitment.

If you’d rather have specialists in tech recruitment handle it, feel free to reach out to us. We have extensive experience finding and screening tech talents for both technical and cultural fit.

We also have access to a huge community of the best Southeast Asian web and software engineers. So, contact us at Skilledd now to speed up your hiring!


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