How to Make Sure Your Next Hire is a Culture Fit
When it comes to culture fit, “one bad apple can spoil the bunch.” Hiring the wrong fit can cost you time, morale and productivity as well as dollars. The challenge? Culture fit is subjective, arbitrary and highly personal. It’s also absolutely critical. While you can never truly know how someone will mesh with your team and company until he or she has been on board for a while, there are some key things you can do during the interview process to improve your chances of hiring the next rising star.
1. First, you need to know what your culture is. What are your company’s core values and mission statement? It sounds obvious, but knowing what your company values most is critical. Who are your top performers and what makes them successful from a qualitative point of view? What are the interpersonal dynamics on your existing team? What is working well? What parts of your company culture are less than perfect? Asking yourself these important questions is a good way to paint a picture of what your ideal hire should bring to the role.
2. Solicit multiple opinions. Involve peers, direct reports and managers in other departments in the hiring process. Compare interview feedback notes from everyone who has met with the interviewee. Are there any common themes? Alternatively, are there any major inconsistencies? Considering various points of view about a candidate can help you determine if you have a good match.
3. Ask situational questions. Asking open-ended, “what would you do if…” questions can give you valuable insight into a candidate’s work style and how he or she will respond to potential challenges. Taking real-world examples of situations your team has faced is a smart idea to gauge how a candidate might fit into your existing team.
4. Look for ways to incorporate spontaneous interactions during the interview process. Take the candidate on a tour of the office. Look for ways to facilitate impromptu interactions i.e. take them through the kitchen during lunch hour. Are they horrified by the guy who wears shorts to work, even in the winter, or do they seem to embrace that person’s individuality? Do they seem energized by the fact that teams eat lunch together every day, or do they comment about the noise level in the kitchen? This is a good way to assess a candidate’s genuine personality when they are in a more relaxed or casual situation and not when they are in “interview mode” sitting in a conference room.
5. Embrace diversity. The ideal hire may very well be the guy who is completely different from everyone else on your team. For example, is your team full of vocal extroverts who could benefit from a more reserved, thoughtful team member? Do you have a few “big picture” types who could benefit from someone who is more detailed and analytical? It’s important to know what your team’s shortcomings are, and finding balance is key to making a long-term hire who will thrive on your team.
6. Set the proper expectations and above all, be honest. Find opportunities to talk about what traits are common among the most successful people at your company. Be candid about your expectations for working from home, general work hours, being available on weekends, attending company outings, etc. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to talk about what part of your company’s culture needs improvement. It’s important for you to paint an accurate picture so a new employee isn’t blindsided when he gets on board.