An organization's culture has an impact on everything from employee productivity to brand reputation. It permeates the organization from the C-suite to the frontline of employees as shared behaviors and values. Though it seems like an oversimplification, the truth is each person hired into an organization will either fit or not fit. "Fit" does mean hiring robotic employees who never bring change and just go along with the current system. Being a culture fit indicates the person will work within the context of culture, whether fulfilling rote job responsibilities or promoting innovation and change.
Those who do not fit tend to either become unproductive (emphasis on unproductive) disruptors or will leave for a more compatible organization. Either way, the cost of hiring without considering culture fit is high. It is important to consider how well a person will function in the organization, as well as their experience and hard skills. The person's needs and the organization's culture should be a good match.
culture and employee engagement go hand-in-hand
Organizational culture needs cultivating to ensure it retains the desired qualities. One of the prime ways to ensure an organization's culture remains strong is through the hiring process. Finding and hiring people who are good culture fits is a process for identifying people who:
- Believe the corporate values and beliefs are congruent with personal values and beliefs
- Can function well in the organization's workplace
- Embraces the organization's ideals like innovation and collaborative work styles
- Likes management's decision-making style
- Will consistently demonstrate behaviors that blend well with the operating environment, not matter the task at hand
Culture fit influences engagement level which in turn impacts a person's productivity and work quality and how likely he or she is to stay. Gallup research on low-turnover organizations found they have created a culture that creates an engaging work environment and place great importance on hiring the right people. It is especially true for managers and supervisors who are cultivators of the culture through their management style and talent management decisions.
Yet, many hiring processes still focus almost exclusively on resume quality, specific skills and particular expertise. Though assessing skills and expertise is certainly important, it is just as important to assess culture fit to create a holistic picture of the job candidate. For example, a tech employee is a brilliant data analyst but a terrible collaborator, and all projects are managed collaboratively through teams. In a different example, an employee is a marketing expert but does not agree with the company's environmental policy, making it difficult to support the brand.
beyond the resume
Assessing for culture fit requires asking a job candidate about more than their technical skills or job performance and sharing more about the company than the responsibilities of the job. Following are five suggestions for holistically assessing a job candidate's culture fit:
1. Describe the work environment and not just the work
Describe the work environment in terms of things like how people work, level of employee autonomy and expectations for creative input.
Ask candidates if they believe they would be a good fit, and require them to explain why to avoid generalities.
People who see themselves as compatible with the organization's culture can describe situations that demonstrate their past success in a similar working environment, whether it was a university team project or a prior job.Getting specific examples is important.
2. Describe the real job
In a tight job market, it is tempting to market a job to a job candidate with great enthusiasm but skip important details out of fear of scaring the person off. You can convert Key Performance Indicators into key objectives for interviewing purposes to zero in on the real job and avoid vague descriptions. During the interview, share the objectives and how they support business goals.
You can then put the objectives into context of the work environment described earlier and relate them to the specific job. The goal is to match the real job requirements to the person's qualities identified during the interview. A customized assessment can help with the matching process
3. Use a diverse screening committee
Most businesses are diverse today, and diversity adds creative thinking and new perspectives. Working in a homogeneous workforce is quite different from working in a diverse one. An organizational culture embracing Diversity & Inclusion as a core value wants to hire talent that shares this particular value and can work with a variety of people in an unbiased way. A diverse screening committee creates a better foundation for protecting the culture of inclusion through careful hiring.
4. Ask interview questions that assess cultural fit
There are a number of interview questions that can assess a person's cultural fit. One of the things to keep in mind is that questions should not be designed to find people who will simply integrate into the workplace without bringing new ideas or a willingness to challenge thinking.
Questions are framed to give the applicant opportunities to provide information about things like the work environment in which the person is most productive, the preferred organizational decision-making process, the type of employee-manager relationship, how the person interacts with coworkers, the workplace characteristics that are considered most important to being an engaged employee and the work style, to name a few.
Notice the questions are not about work experience because that information is on a resume. You are exploring a person's attitudes, preferences and perspectives; how the candidate relates to people that include supervisors, coworkers and customers; and personality traits. A personality assessment is an excellent supplement to the interview questions.
5. Use assessments that specifically identify motivation and shared values
Assessing a person's interpersonal style is another way of identifying a good cultural fit. Evaluate characteristics like social skills, creativity, goal focus, friendliness, coachability and temperament. These are personal qualities that contribute to motivation.
Also assess shared values because they are an essential element of organizational culture. This assessment will look for qualities like collaborative attitude, willingness to pursue opportunities, focus on goal achievement and enthusiasm. Two of the many advantages of using high quality assessments that provide reliable measurements is that potential interviewer bias is eliminated and information that could be difficult to identify through a face-to-face interview is revealed.
hiring people who will thrive
Hiring people who are good culture fits takes a new approach to the recruitment and hiring process. Job experience is important, but it is only part of the picture. Even the most qualified person in terms of education and experience may not be a good hire, if the person cannot thrive in your organization's work environment. If you do believe that someone will be a good fit, then zero in on what is important to the candidate and share how your organization can meet their needs.