hire for culture fit

This is a guest contribution by Megan McQuade SHRM-SCP, Community Relations Director for TruPath, an executive search firm based in Arizona that provides businesses with culturally aligned talent. 

A common mistake in the business world is hiring a new employee based entirely on the individual’s skills and training, ignoring how he or she fits into the company’s culture. Hiring someone who is unwilling to work within the team is detrimental to the organization as a whole and can create problems. As a result, an increasing number of managers now hire for culture fit to create a harmonious environment within the workplace.

What are some methods to hire for culture fit?

1. Have a Plan

Some organizations value character over expertise and training. These companies believe that they can teach skills, but teaching a culture fit is nearly impossible. Come up with a plan for hiring based on what your organization values. Oftentimes, the perfect candidate is someone who might currently lack the ideal experience and education, but fits in personality-wise.

2. Ask Questions

By asking relevant questions, you can see how the candidate would fit within your organization. Ask about a challenging cultural experience the candidate has had in the workplace and how he or she dealt with that conflict. Sometimes, employees who have persevered in poor work environments are more adaptable because they’ve learned to cope. At the same time, learning how the employee dealt with this undesirable workplace culture is important because workplace conflicts are unavoidable.

culture fit interview

3. Remain Skeptical of the Candidate’s Responses

Don’t take everything that the candidate says as the absolute truth, as different people often have varying interpretations of an event. Instead, look at how the candidate answers questions and whether his or her response fits with your workplace culture. If the candidate constantly blames managers or co-workers for problems in a previous workplace, it could be a sign that this individual doesn’t accept responsibility when things go wrong.

4. Study Communication Style

Look at the candidate’s communication style to see if it’s a good fit for the way your organization is structured. If you’re unsure of their communication style, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help you determine that. Alongside this, the interview is the perfect place to evaluate how this individual communicates with you and how he or she would fit in with the rest of the team.

5. Detail the Company Culture

Before making a hire, go over the company culture with the candidate. It might make sense to put this culture in writing, so that the candidate knows that you are serious about maintaining it. Defining the culture allows you to begin a dialogue with new employees about what is expected of them and what they can expect of their co-workers during their time with the organization.

While technical skill and past experience may top the list on HR managers’ most prioritized hiring factors, it’s just as important to hire for culture fit. Just as individuals’ behavior changes in different environments (i.e. at home versus at work), a person’s ability to work efficiently can also shift in different workplace cultures. The benefit goes beyond the internal gain — it also ensures that employees are happy and battles employee turnover. Organizational hierarchy, office layout, levels of formality, and the degree of teamwork all factor into how work gets done.