The importance of cultural fit and how to get it

Denise Martinez Corporate Recruiting

So much is involved in recruiting, whether it’s choosing the right applicant tracking system or tracking down candidates with hard-to-find skills. Too often recruiters and hiring managers discount the importance of cultural fit in a new hire. When you need to fill a position, you often look closely at skills and experience. You want to be sure they can do the job, but what happens if they simply don’t fit in? A bad cultural fit isn’t likely to stick around that long, and then you’re starting the process all over again.

What exactly does cultural match entail? It means hiring someone who fits in with the overall surroundings, mission, values, and personality of your company, according to Recruiting Daily. These things help define how people work together and behave when under one roof together. Here are two examples of very different office cultures:

Office 1
The dress code is casual and the environment is lively. Work takes place in an open office to facilitate brainstorming and collaboration. Projects are group-oriented.

Office 2
Employees are expected to wear business casual attire. The office is divided into smaller sections that allow for deep concentration and individually-driven work. Projects are self-guided.

While office environments fall anywhere on the spectrum between these two extremes, you can see how different two job environments can be, even if they are in similar industries. Put the wrong person in office No.1 and her coworkers may feel she isn’t a team player. In office 2, a poor fit might come across and needy and unable to be responsible for his own workload. As you can see, culture can make all the difference in a strong hire and one that quickly moves on.

Other benefits of cultural fit
According to a study from Radford University cited by ERE.net, employees that fit in well with their organizations reported higher job satisfaction, identified more with their company, were likely to remain in the organization, were more committed, and even demonstrated better job performance.

The bottom line is, recruiters should be hiring for cultural fit in addition to a skills match. Here are some questions that can help gauge if the candidate will fit in with your company.

  • Why do you want to work here?
    It’s a classic interview question, but one of the best ways to reveal how the candidate really feels about your company and whether they’ve done their homework. Another way to phrase it might be, “what about our company’s mission excites you?”
  • What is your ideal workplace like?
    Another option is to ask the candidate directly. What kind of environment are they looking for? You might also want to ask them to give you five characteristics describing their ideal workplace.
  • Describe the best manager you’ve ever had
    This question gives you insight into the type of management structure the employee excels with. If they value direct, consistent feedback and your workplace is more about working independently and finding your own way, you may want to reconsider this hire.
  • What do you like best about your current coworkers?
    This gives you a sense of what types of relationships a candidate builds with people he or she works closely with. If the person values working with other skilled people, this like communicates that their relationships are mostly professional.

The importance of employer brand
Of course, the hiring process starts before a candidate submits their information in an applicant tracking system. It starts with awareness. The best way to hire good culture fits is to have an employer brand that draws in the right people. Create content that clearly demonstrates your culture and the right candidates are more likely to apply in the first place.

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