Hiring for Cultural Fit? Here’s What You Need to Know

Written by Miranda Nicholson on February 9, 2017

Posted in Human Resources

Have you ever wondered why a candidate whose skills and experience so perfectly match a job description is suddenly struggling at work?

There’s a good chance the company failed to hire for cultural fit.

Think of the enthusiastic extrovert who’s hit hard by feelings of isolation when working remotely, or the deep-thinking introvert who’s quickly overwhelmed by a lively open-office plan. These employees may love the work but clash with the culture.

And do you know what happens when someone’s preferences and personality traits conflict with those of colleagues?

They become disengaged. They might struggle to create bonds and reach important milestones. Some may even publish negative company reviews or write a book about the experience. The turnover alone that results from a poor cultural fit can cost a company 50–60% of the employee’s annual salary.

On the other hand…

When you hire for cultural fit, the likelihood of high levels of retention, engagement, performance, and profitability increases exponentially.

Cultural fit is a critical component of the hiring process. It’s also one of the most challenging to master. But apply the following guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to an actively engaged workforce.

Defining Your Company’s Culture Code

Before your company can begin to hire for cultural fit, you must be able to articulate your organization’s culture. Establishing an official culture code allows you to weave your core values into the hiring process so you can recognize when a candidate’s beliefs and behaviors align with those of your organization.

What’s unique about your company’s values, goals, and practices? What traits are critical to thriving? Clearly defining these attributes and others like them will allow you to identify job candidates who embrace or are willing to adapt to your environment.

The process of formally defining company culture can be as simple as a series of staff discussions and surveys or as in-depth as hiring an outside consultant. Whatever method you choose, the outcome should be the same: a clearly defined list of cultural attributes that recruiters, supervisors, and hiring managers can put to use.

formstack-culturecode

Pre-Screening with Culture Code in Mind

Next up: Begin incorporating your culture code into the hiring process—and not just during job interviews. Vetting candidates for cultural fit should begin the moment you start reviewing resumes and applications.

The best way to do that? Weave culture-focused questions into your job postings and application process. Include pre-screening questions such as “What is your perfect work environment?” and “What motivates you to perform your best work?” to help candidates convey what they need to thrive. Evaluating these characteristics during the early stages of hiring allows you to be proactive about determining an applicant’s cultural fit.

Developing a Cultural Interview Process

As each job posting pool is narrowed down to a few strong candidates, make sure your interview process is infused with interactions that help ensure each new hire will adapt well to your culture. In the words of FirstPerson’s Mike Bensi:

“Take the time to identify the key values and behaviors needed to be successful within your company. And then develop the interview process around those needs. This allows you to create a unique value proposition that ensures you’re hiring people who are attracted to your company!”

At Formstack, we’ve developed a cultural interview process that provides plenty of opportunities for both the candidate and current employees to get to know one another. It starts with a peer interview where a candidate meets several people on the team. Next, a conversation with employees outside the department offers a chance to learn more broadly what the company is all about. It’s only after those first two culture-focused sessions that the applicant meets with the hiring manager and HR director.

While countless candidates can likely handle a particular job, only a handful will do so in a way that reflects your vision and values. When employees not only love the work they do but also embrace the way their company operates, great things can happen.

For even more inspiration on infusing company culture into the hiring process, click the link below for five places you can showcase your culture code to future job candidates.