How to hire for cultural fit

Q4intelligence on Oct 27, 2017 3:00:00 AM

Company culture is important to employees and candidates, so it goes without saying that it should also be important to employers and hiring managers.

But knowing that cultural fit matters and hiring for it are two very different things.

Employers want to hire enthusiastic employees who are capable, productive, and loyal. And while an increasing number of businesses, recruiters, and Human Resources teams are beginning to see the value in hiring for culture, many of them still aren’t quite sure how to do it.

If you fall into this category, here are 7 tips to get you on your way toward building a company with great culture and a team to match.

1.) Recognize it

People want to work for companies they can get excited about. They want to learn, grow, and perform in organizations that reflect their own values and beliefs back to them.

Today’s job seekers are looking for that perfect fit. When they find it, they will excel. They will go above and beyond. And they will stay.

2.) Define it

It sounds so basic. And guess what? It is.

You can’t hire for cultural fit if you haven’t defined what it is.

Questions to ask yourself and your team during this process:

  • What is our purpose?
  • What things do we value?
  • How will those values guide our actions, behaviors, and decisions?
  • What are our priorities?
  • How do we support our employees? Our community?
  • How does our work make a difference in the word?

A note on defining your purpose:

You may think your purpose is to sell lots of stuff. Or to make loads of money. Or to keep your doors open. Nope. These goals may be related to your purpose, but they are not the gold. It’s time to back up. Think big. Dig deep.

What is your true organizational purpose? Your driving force. That thing that gets you out of bed in the morning and makes you feel great about what you do. 

Yes… that one! That’s it.

3.) Communicate it

Defining your vision is key to building a strong culture, but it won’t do you any good if no one knows what it is.

Make sure your company values and vision are communicated throughout the organization, from top to bottom, clearly and often. These things need to be constantly on display, completely unavoidable, and part of the organizational DNA.

4.) Live it

Painting a pretty cultural picture that isn’t a daily reality may fool people initially, but it won’t last long.

If there are discrepancies between your cultural story and your cultural experience, people are going to catch on quickly. Not only will you lose your credibility, you’ll lose your best business asset— happy employees.

5.) Own it

If your organization values a high-risk, high-reward atmosphere, that’s okay. Just make sure that’s what coming through in your job listings, applications, and the career section of your website. 

If you’re a high intensity environment marketing yourself as a low-key, chill place to work, you’ll be attracting all the wrong kinds of candidates. And setting everyone up for failure.

Be true to who you are and you will appeal to like-minded individuals.

A note about hiring like-minded individuals:

By no means should you attempt to hire a team of people who are all the same. Diversity of thought, background, and life experience makes for much more well-rounded, creative, and constructive teams. Never use “cultural fit” to discriminate based on race, gender, religion and other protected classes. Great cultures support diversity.

6.) Test it

How do you determine what characteristics you’re looking for when hiring? Do some testing.

Gather your best performers and most enthusiastic employees and ask them questions. What do they think makes them a good fit for the team? What do they love most about working for you? Why do they continue to stay?

Brainstorm potential interview questions based on these responses and then have your current stars answer them honestly. Look for patterns that emerge and characteristics or qualities that consistently rise to the top. These are the things you’ll want to look for in your future hires.

7.) Find it

Want a recruiting process that takes cultural fit into account from the get-go? Develop an ideal candidate profile.

Pulling from your in-house research, create the story of who you want on your team. What kind of person are you looking for? Which traits are most desirable?

Once you know who you’re targeting, you can start thinking about the best way to look for them. Where are you most likely to find candidates that match this description? What social channels are they on? Where would they go to look for new opportunities? 

Sometimes, they’re already working for you.

Part of building great culture includes supporting career development and promoting from within. You may also want to consider asking your staff for referrals. Because they are already familiar with your culture, they’re more likely to recommend someone who will be a good fit.

Now, do it!

Your company culture can be your best asset or your worst nightmare. Invest in yours and good things will happen.

Photos by Saksit Choeiklin

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