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Consider Your Culture Before Making the Offer

July 6th, 2012

Ten years ago, we didn’t consider things like “cultural fit” when hiring.  We focused solely on skills and experience as the primary criteria by which we’d assess candidates.  But with today’s workplace becoming more interactive and team-oriented, whether a potential hire will fit your company culture is as important as anything else.  You can train for technical skill, but there is no training course for temperament or personality.  And if you hire the perfect employee who can’t get along with his coworkers, his effectiveness plummets and you may realize that he has to go.

How to avoid this classic mistake?  First you have to understand your company culture.

It’s initially defined by the leadership of the company in the type of environment that they have set up. Comprised of a set of spoken and unspoken “rules” for how things work within the organization, the values, attitudes, behaviors, and rewards and recognition systems, your company culture influences the language used, decision making standards and daily work habits of your employees.

It’s vital to hiring success that you understand your own culture as it really is, not what you’d like it to be.  This way, you can hire people who you feel have the best chance of being effective team members within the context of how work gets done at your facility.  People who relate well with others in the workplace  have higher job satisfaction, are more engaged and take more pride in their work.

Once you feel you truly understand your culture and environment, you can devise ways to figure out if candidates are going to be a good fit or not, and only make offers to those who will fit in.

Use your referral network to find candidates.  No one understands your culture better than those who work in it every day – your employees.  Ask your top performers to recommend people they feel might be a good match.  You can even incentivize the process, offering a bonus to the referring employee if the new hire they recommended works out, by creating a formal Employee Referral Program.

Put social media to work for you.  Look into people who engage with you on your social media outlets like your Facebook page.  They have sought you out and are involving themselves voluntarily, so they already have a good sense of who you are as a group of people and feel connected to you.  You can learn a lot about them as individuals, such as their communication skills and their attitudes and motivations.

Allow candidates to shadow.  Probably one of the best ways to assess how someone will work with others in your group is to set up a day or even a few hours where they can shadow someone who is doing the job they’re trying to attain.  This will give the potential employee an understanding of what the job entails and what it’s like to work within your company culture.  And new- guy- jitters aside, you’ll get a firsthand view of how he fits in with the rest of the team.

Try testing or behavioral interview questions.  Personality  testing can prove very effective for assessing fit.  However, it’s fairly time consuming for you to make sure you’re reading the results correctly.  You can try adding some behavioral questions to your regular interview set.  Ask questions that will help you understand the candidate’s adaptability, accountability, ethics, focus, confidence, motivation and enthusiasm.  “What are your top three most important work values?”  “You just realized that you have shipped the wrong parts to our top client.  Tell me the steps you would take to correct this error.”  Assess their answers within the context of your existing company culture.

You may be tempted to compromise on cultural fit when you find that candidate who has incredible skills and experience.  Don’t give in to it – forewarned is forearmed.  If his fit gives you pause, don’t make the offer. And if you’re looking for expertise in hiring for fit, contact ERG Staffing Services, where we know how to ask the right questions!

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