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Hiring for the Right Culture Fit

In a recent post, we discussed recruiting and some new angles to find the best candidates. But how do you keep them? One thing that’s really important is hiring for the appropriate culture fit, especially if you’re a company that lives and breathes culture.

The first step in hiring for cultural fit is to be able to articulate what values, norms and practices define your business and that of your clients. Once you can define the culture, make sure it’s clearly expressed in all of your communication materials, including your website, recruiting tools, and especially job postings. Now, we know that in our industry, clients aren’t always keen on letting us name drop, but this is where your company culture comes in. Your job ads must reflect your business culture and connect back to your core values, which in turn, helps your organization attract, engage and retain talent. Try emphasizing some of the qualitative things you want in a candidate. In addition to looking for X years of experience, say that you're looking for someone who's innovative, entrepreneurial or customer-centric — whatever characteristics reflect your culture.

Members of your organization involved in interviewing potential employees also must have a good grasp of your business culture and refer back to it throughout the hiring process. If you want to find the best candidates, it’s not enough to ask if they will fit into the corporate culture because a smart candidate will know what you want to hear and give you the right answer. Companies talk about their culture in glowing terms during the interview. In fact, the culture segment of the interview has become a large portion of the 'sales' process when speaking with top candidates. The best candidates know these questions are likely to be asked, especially if they’ve done their research, and they’re usually prepared with answers to the most common questions that take on the culture topic. This can create a facade, making both the interview questions and answers...well, phony — perhaps even disingenuous.

Instead of going down that path take the time to provide a look at your culture in real time. Walk the candidate around the campus. Let them meet key team members. Show them where the real work happens. Then, when you’ve arrived back in the interview room, ask one question: “What were you thinking as we walked through the office today?” "If you get a more specific, spontaneous response, rather than a canned answer, then there’s a good chance you’ve found a culture fit.

One thing to remember is that employers should avoid confusing personal similarities with cultural fit. When the cultural fit is used to hire a homogenous workforce, the resulting lack of diversity can manifest in different, sometimes adverse, ways. For example, this sameness can impede creativity. In a larger sense, this can undermine a company's overall competitiveness.

The end goal is to identify and hire the very best candidates whose skills and attributes match the organization's core values. This is achievable when organizations have a culture that's based on positive values that are open and relatable enough to a diverse selection of people who can embody them in their own way.

 

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