How to Recruit for the Perfect Culture Fit

By | September 19, 2011

Positive Work Environments Generate Lower Turnover Rates, Higher Employee Productivity


Sometimes a candidate is perfect on paper but turns out to be completely wrong for the position. As the saying goes, you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. Recruiting for a “culture fit” is a hot topic for hiring managers and human resources. What does it really mean and how do you ensure that an employee will fit in with the culture of the organization? Before you can truly answer that question, you must take an honest look at your company’s environment.

Define Your Company Culture

The term “company culture” is an all-encompassing term. Thus, it is not fair to assign a one-size-fits-all definition. The factors contributing to company culture can include management techniques, shared values, work ethics, compensation and benefit strategies, retention and motivation programs, and unique character. That is a lot to consider.

Common sense says to start with your core values and mission and vision statements. The organization’s core values should serve as guidelines for proper office etiquette and work ethic. If something seems to be missing, it is not too late to make an adjustment. Company culture is evolutionary.

Diverse opinions, communication styles and personalities create an effective and successful business environment.

Another significant factor lies in your retention and employee engagement strategy. The way employee satisfaction is managed speaks volumes and contributes to the overall morale of the office. Low employee morale makes for a highly undesirable company culture.

Perhaps the best indicator of company culture just comes down to your current workforce and team dynamics. This includes all of the unspoken rules regarding how people interact and how business gets done. Do not be mistaken: company culture does not mean everyone acts the same. Diverse opinions, communication styles and personalities collaborating to achieve one common goal are what contribute to an effective and successful business environment. Employees learn and evolve by working together. The outcome is your own unique company culture.

How to Recruit for a Fit

Of course, selecting the ideal candidate is not only about cultural fit. Equally important is the candidate’s knowledge, experience and ability to get the job done. Hiring managers must strike a balance between the skills necessary for the position and how that person will fit in with the existing team.

When so many factors contribute to company culture, recruiting for a cultural fit seems like quite the task. Don’t be overwhelmed; there are a few useful tactics to ensure you are selecting the right individual.

Before the candidate selection process even begins, look at the role and position description from a different angle. What qualities does the incumbent need to possess in order to keep the work flow efficient and achieve productivity goals? In what capacity will this person be working with co-workers or customers? To what degree will this professional need to drive work processes or motivate other employees? The answers to these questions should give you a better picture of the traits and communication style your new hire needs to possess in order to be successful.

During the interview stage, make sure you are digging deep with the right questions. Employ the behavioral interview method to uncover past behavior and predict future behavior. Find out about candidates’ demeanors, including how they act under pressure and with co-workers.

It is always a good idea to incorporate peer interviews. During the interview process, invite those that will work closely with the new hire to step in and meet each candidate. Pay attention to their feedback. While the peer interview should not be the deciding factor, it offers key insights that the hiring manager should consider and that may play an important role in the team’s dynamic.

Fostering the Right Environment

How do you foster an environment that continually upholds important cultural values? Company culture is evolutionary, and there will be natural variances as an organization changes. An organization’s leadership holds the responsibility to drive company culture. Anyone in a supervisory role has the important task of being “in tune” with the organization’s vision and its current reality. Of course, everyone will not be happy all of the time; but you can make sure that you are fostering an environment where everyone feels comfortable and respected.

Employee retention strategies play right into company culture. A good gauge of company culture is how proud employees are to be part of the organization. An employee’s perceived value to the organization has a direct impact on work ethic, career development and a sense of company pride.

Retain employees that exemplify the company culture by maintaining a strong career development program. Understand each employee’s career goals and create individual development plans. By giving employees ownership of the process, they will have a greater sense of their value to the organization. By offering opportunities for advancement, you are also building your leadership capacity. As employees grow with the company, they will further the values most important to the company.

Company culture is fluid. As new hires integrate with seasoned employees, there are bound to be slight changes. Remember, the key is to maintain a unique balance between all of the factors contributing to a successful environment.

Enjoy the many benefits that come with fostering a positive work culture, including reduced turnover and a high productivity workforce!

Topics Talent Leadership

About David Coons

Coons is senior vice president of The Jacobson Group, a provider of talent to the insurance industry. Phone: 800-466-1578. Email: dcoons@jacobsononline.com. More from David Coons

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