May 8, 2018

5 Steps to Making Culture Fit a Priority in the Hiring Process


Hiring a new employee means bringing fresh ideas into a business. The new hire’s presence can act as a catalyst for changes. They can be a major driver behind implementing new concepts and energizing team members while providing a new perspective that can help the business achieve more overall success.

This is obviously a best-case scenario, not the typical way that new hires play out. Partially, this is due to the fact that most organizations focus solely on whether a candidate is a fit for the job. They don’t necessarily take into consideration whether the employee is a good fit for the company’s culture.

At every organization, there are employees who are able to do the job but who nonetheless struggle to integrate and truly connect with the company or team. This situation can lead to a variety of outcomes, ranging from the employee leaving after a short period of time to more significant issues, such as bringing down the entire team’s morale or the employee bad-mouthing the company to others.

The good news is that hiring employees who are a fit for both the job and the company is not an impossible feat. Doing so simply requires that all interviewees make culture fit a priority throughout the interview process. Here are some tips:

1. Ensure All Interviewers Are on the Same Page

Prior to starting the interview process, ensure that all parties agree on what they are looking for in a coworker. Include HR, the new hire’s direct manager, and colleagues the new hire will be working with in this conversation. Get specific. Determine together what a “culture fit” looks like in a candidate.

2. Ask Pointed Questions

During the interview, go beyond the basics. Ask questions that help you get a feel for the candidate’s personality. Some examples might include:

– What did you like about the culture at your last office? What didn’t you like?
– What one perk would you like an employer to provide, and why?
– What are your values outside of the office?
– What do you do for fun?

These questions will give you and the candidate a better idea about whether you are a good match for one another.

3. Answer Their Questions Honestly

Even when you’re talking with the best candidate, don’t sugarcoat the truth. If you often stay at the office until 7 p.m., don’t claim the job is a 9-5. You can note the benefits of course, but if the expectation is long hours, say that up front. Don’t just highlight the fun aspects of the job. Be honest about the challenges and discuss how other employees address these things.

4. Use Social Media to Share Insights Into Your Culture

While social media is a great way to highlight your product/business, it also provides a way for potential employees to peek inside the organization. Be sure to post about off-site outings, volunteer days, and client events that give prospective employees a glimpse at what life is like at your company.

5. Before Making an Offer, Form a Panel to Discuss the Decision

After all the candidates have been interviewed, form a panel before making a final decision. Bring the entire team together, along with representatives from different departments who will interact with the candidate. This is the most critical step in determining culture fit. The panel will discuss each candidate and how they might fit into the company.

While there ultimately needs to be a decision-maker, everyone should be allowed to weigh in to produce the most well-informed decision possible.

While there is no way to guarantee a culture fit before an employee starts their job, these steps will help the company select candidates who are more likely to work out in this regard. When we like what we do, the people we work with, and the culture of the organization, the company wins.

Stacey Engle is EVP at Fierce Conversations.

Read more in Organizational Culture

Stacey Engle has more than ten years' experience helping build businesses through smart go-to market and innovative people strategies. She is a key driver in Fierce's double-digit growth. Stacey leads the sales and marketing teams at Fierce, overseeing all strategy and branding efforts.

Stacey believes meeting the needs of clients starts with understanding the challenges they face, most of which start and end with conversations. She is driven by the impact Fierce Conversations has on building relationships and improving the bottom line for Fierce clients.

Stacey serves on boards and offers pro-bono work with the University of Washington (UW), various arts organizations, and community initiatives. She was awarded the Outstanding Alumni Mentor Award from UW for her work founding a professional development board that connects students with transformational experiences.