Cultural Fit: Are You Doing It Right?

A recent blog post by CEB, the world’s leading member-based advisory company, showed a pretty staggering statistic.

In a survey they conducted of thousands of hiring managers worldwide, they found that hiring managers admitted that 20% of their team shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. Hiring managers they surveyed said that their team thought that one in five new hires were a “bad” or “regretted” decision.

And given the outrageous cost of hiring a bad employee, it’s essential to make sure that you do everything in your power to ensure that new hires are fit for your company, both in terms of skills and culture.

But how do you do that? How can you know whether you’re going about figuring out cultural fit the right or the wrong way?

Here are a few dos (and don’ts) for determining cultural fit:

  • Do assess cultural fit before hiring. Even if you don’t think that cultural fit is all that important, you should still give it some consideration in your interview process. Cultural fit (i.e., teammates who get along with each other and can work well) is an important element of business success, and leaving it out could have negative consequences.
  • Don’t rely on talent alone when hiring new candidates. Finding real talent is essential when making new hires. But the dynamics of your team and business are also important. Find talent, and then assess cultural fit, but don’t rely on talent alone to get new candidates through.
  • Do figure out your own culture. In order to adequately assess the cultural fit of new hires, it’s essential to understand your own. Ask yourself questions like “How do we get our work done–collaboratively, independently, or both,” or “do we provide flexible work hours, or is everyone on a set schedule?” Figuring out how you work will help you articulate your culture to others.
  • Don’t “wing it” when explaining your company. This is true for a lot of things during the interview process, but if you go in underprepared, expect to be sorely disappointed. If you expect to be able to “wing it” when you’re explaining–and asking about–your culture, you may be surprised when it comes time to assess a candidate. By being clear and prepared you can be much more effective in evaluating a candidate’s cultural fit.
  • Do interview for values separately. An interesting suggestion that we’ve heard is to interview for values separately. That is, have one interview for things like skills and work history, and another for values and cultural fit. By separating interviews off into sections, you can be more focused about what you learn and how candidates fit in with what you’re looking for.
  • Don’t expect everything to happen all at once. Finally, when assessing cultural fit, don’t expect everything to happen all at once. While it would be great to walk out of a half-hour interview knowing everything there is to know about a job seeker, the reality is that such a situation is extremely unlikely to happen. Don’t be afraid to ask for follow-up interviews, questions, or concerns. While you may spend more time and resources up-front interviewing candidates, the reward of hiring the right person will be great.

As we’ve mentioned before, hiring is often an imperfect art. But just because hiring may be an imperfect process doesn’t mean that you can neglect doing basic things that will help improve the quality of your new candidates.

Talent is important. In fact, it’s essential. But a new candidate’s talent could be overshadowed if they’re a poor cultural fit for your company. At the same time, you should never rely on cultural fit alone when hiring a new candidate. Having a team who gets along well does nothing for you if they don’t possess the skills needed to succeed within your business.

But whatever you do, you should make sure that you take cultural fit into consideration while doing interviews–the money and time you save (and the great new talent you’ll get) will make it all worth it.

AIM Careerlink can help you find the right talent for your open positions. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you get the best talent around, get in touch with us through our website or on Twitter. We’d love to hear from you.