Monday, August 5, 2013

Hiring For Company Culture

Have you ever met the dream candidate? The one with the flawless resume and the best credentials, the one that companies try to steal from their competitors by offering large salaries and great benefits?

Without the right cultural fit, that same dream candidate can just as easily turn into a nightmare by the time he or she signs on the dotted line and props his or her feet up on the mahogany desk in his or her corner office.

Company culture is a “special blend of values, visions and missions” that is developed over time with a company. While skills, abilities and knowledge are all important, they can be acquired, modified or enhanced. They are not the primary contributions to a company’s success – culture is.

Cultural fit is one of the most important factors in hiring decisions, and a candidate’s personal and professional values certainly tie into this.  A company's most valuable asset is its people. And once you've put in the time, money and hard work to ensure you have an engaged and productive team, you don't want to upset that balance. Today, it’s not just about finding the person that can do the job, but also about finding someone who can fit into the corporate culture.

Your company culture is the foundation on which everything you do rests. It acts as an unwritten set of rules that drives behavior and cohesion across the company. While certain knowledge are going to be the price of consideration for certain positions, if a candidate is not going to fit the culture of the company and department, even possessing the most skills and knowledge will not ensure success in the long run.
One of the more stressful tasks that managers face is hiring or replacing employees. Companies have become more strict about who they hire today than in previous years because of the economy and the cost of hiring. If you choose the wrong candidate, then it takes time to replace them, while your current employees have to fulfill those unresolved tasks until the job is filled.

Communication is Key! This means communicating to your hiring manager about what you’re looking for in a candidate and communicating to potential candidates about the qualities they must possess in order to be a good fit.

A Few Pointers on Hiring for Cultural Fit:

Define the ideal candidate.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s going to be difficult to find it. Knowing what characteristics, skills and personality traits the ideal candidate should possess in order to be a successful, productive member of the team is imperative. Taking an “I’ll know it when I see it” approach to hiring can result in a lot of wasted time interviewing the wrong candidates, time that could be better spent getting to know the right one.

For more on this, read our post, "Why Assessment Testing is Critical to Your Success."

Get everyone involved.

It’s imperative to include your current employees in the hiring process. Whether it’s picking key employees to interview the candidate or setting up a meet-and-greet with the team, seeing how a potential new employee interacts with current employees can help ensure a stronger cultural fit.

Another approach to incorporating the current staff is asking for referrals from the staff; this will assure that you are getting people they want to work with, and it’s highly cost-effective.
Write effective job descriptions.

The best way of screening job candidates who may have the necessary experience, but don’t quite fit your culture, is a well-written job description.

Learn how to write a truly well-written job description by downloading our free eBook!

It’s important to not only describe the tasks, skills, knowledge and personality traits it takes to do the job, but also what the result measurements are that are utilized to assess the quality of work. This in turn will hopefully give the candidate some insight into the environment in which the work will be done.

Ensure hiring managers are engaged.

Interviewing can be a lot more difficult than some might think. Anyone can ask questions and have a conversation with a job candidate, but an experienced hiring manager is trained to pull out the key pieces of information that help develop the most accurate assessment of whether or not an applicant is right for the job. Ensure everyone is on the same page about exactly the kind of person you’re looking for.

Define the questions that are relevant to your culture.

There’s really not a “one-size-fits-all-company” question. It’s important to think about your own culture and what’s most important to you in a new employee.

Some sample questions may include:

Describe your ideal work environment.
Describe the best boss you’ve ever had and why.
What does your ideal role entail?

Remember, an employee who excels in one environment can struggle in another. So when interviewing, it’s not always about if can someone do the job, but do they want to do the job and do they want to do it within your company.

Written by Excelsior, Inc.'s Director of Talent Acquisition, James Moore.  Read Excelsior’s blog here (

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