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May 31, 2017 10:40 AM

Hiring For Cultural Fit - How To Do It Right

It’s the great debate of the recruitment industry; What do we value more, skills or culture fit?

Common sense (which isn’t always right) tells us to hire for skills, and the new employee will adapt to their surroundings. But there’s a growing belief that we should actually take the opposite approach; Hire for fit and train for skills.

In fact, many companies are now adopting this approach as policy in their recruitment drives, and it seems that this tactic is paying dividends. Employees are happier, teams are more efficient, and most importantly, business is on the up. And while we don’t really need statistics to prove that a happy person is a better worker, this study by the University of Warwick found that happy employees are 12% more productive.

So with all the signs pointing to a culture first approach to recruitment, how do we go about hiring for a specific workplace culture?

Before we answer that question, let’s take a look at how we define work culture.


What is culture fit?

Culture fit means that an employee’s core values and beliefs are in tune with those of the company. It could be relating to a moral standpoint, social responsibility, or simply the way that work is done around the office.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that both employee and company must be role models in society or the workplace, it simply means that they both should be on the same page.

Figuring out which page they’re on, is where it can get tricky.


Understand your company’s values

It’s often difficult to define exactly what it is that makes a workplace tick, and so it is essential to take the time to clarify the company culture you are hiring for.

The best way to do this is to sit down and talk to people from every department from the top right down to the bottom and try to figure out what makes them feel that they belong where they are. Also, ask them what they feel makes the perfect employee and you’ll get a clear idea of the characteristics and personality traits that the current workplace culture values highly.

Once you have your list of attributes, see if the top performers (the company superstars) line up with this employee avatar. Of course very few will be a perfect match, but you will get no clearer indication of the traits and behaviours required to be a success in a particular company’s culture.

To define the cultural values of the workplace even more clearly, you can also analyze the worst performers or those that obviously don’t quite fit in with the rest of the team. Are they exhibiting any of the valued personality traits mentioned? Probably not.


Target and connect with ideal candidates

Now that you have created the perfect employee avatar that will fit so nicely into the company’s culture, it’s time to find candidates that fit the profile and start connecting with them. And the easiest way to do so is to promote the company’s values and workplace culture.

Choose a few aspects of the workplace culture and create content such as blog posts, social media posts, and even videos that highlight these. Creating a positive brand reputation in this way encourages potential candidates with similar values to follow or connect with the company and possibly even get in touch.

Another approach would be to get involved with social outreach programs in the region like the charities we at vsource are involved with. Not only is your company building a better future for those with fewer opportunities in life but it is a clear sign that the company expects its employees (both current and future) to embrace such values.


Interviewing for cultural fit

As a recruiter, you will no doubt have your interviewing process down to a fine art, but once you bring culture fit into the equation as an essential requirement, you may have to adjust your tactics ever so slightly.

The most crucial component to an interview process that successfully identifies candidates that fit a workplace culture is a set of solid behavioral questions and a good interview plan to assess their soft skills. Go back to your perfect employee avatar and start brainstorming questions that can determine if each candidate is a good fit. These should include questions that touch on or involve hypothetical scenarios that relate to the company’s core values.

Before the interviews start, you can try these questions out on some of the company’s top performers. Take a note of their answers and watch out for similar responses during interviews.

Once candidates have passed the initial interview stage, it’s a good idea to allow them to spend a bit of time with their prospective colleagues. Allow them to sit in on and contribute to a meeting or bring them along for a group lunch. Pay close attention to how they interact with the group and later ask your team members for their initial impression of the candidate. Of course, you won’t do this with every candidate, but for those you are prepared to offer the job to, it can work as the litmus test to determine their chances of settling in quickly.


Don’t forget the talent

While culture fit is of course an all-important consideration for recruiters, it’s easy to lose sight of the primary objective which is to fill a role with a capable candidate. Don’t get so ensconced in a search for candidates to fit the work culture that you forget about talent and skills.

Finding the right balance of expertise and personality is by no means a simple task, and sometimes it’s necessary to weigh up one set of attributes over another. In this instance we would lean more towards culture fit as generally speaking, it’s easier to train a person to a job than it is to change their outlook on life or how they interact with their fellows.


Stuck in a culture vs. skills rut? Get in touch with vsource now, and one of our sourcing consultants will help find those candidates with skills that best fit your working culture.



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