The Art of Hiring for ‘Cultural Fit’

Define Your Culture
How can I increase the likelihood of hiring someone who will be a good fit for my organization?
Many of us are using behavioral interviewing questions, and some of us have taken it a step further and identified the competencies needed in our positions.  We developed behavioral questions, which we believe will elicit these competencies.  We dutifully probe candidates who supply us with incomplete answers, and despite our best efforts, we still sometimes hire someone who turns out not to ‘fit’.
What’s one to do?  Consider whether you’re hiring folks who ‘culturally fit’ with your organization.
In Miranda Nicolson’s article, “3 Steps To Improving Your Cultural Fit Hiring”, she first  recommends that you “Define Your Culture Code”.  What’s unique about your organization?  What are your values and beliefs?  How do you ‘show’ those attributes in your organization to the outside world?  What qualities do you need to thrive in your organization?  A series of discussions with your employees should help produce and confirm this information.
Next, Nicholson challenges us to ‘Pre-screen with Culture Code in Mind’.  Don’t wait for the actual face to face interview.  Begin to look for the cultural fit with your initial  pre-screening telephone interview.  Nicholson suggests asking, “What motivates you to perform your best work?”  “What is your perfect work environment”.  Ask questions to get candidates to open up and offer their perspective to you.  The sooner you can begin to assess ‘cultural fit’, the better.
Finally, she advocates for ‘Developing a Cultural Interview Process’.  Develop interview questions around the key values and behaviors that are needed in order to be successful in your organization.  This creates a unique value proposition that you are looking to hire someone who will be attracted to your organization and its culture.  For example, if working on teams is an integral part of your culture, ask the candidate to tell you about a time he was part of a team working on a project.  What was his role, what specifically did he contribute, and what role(s) has he had on team(s) in the past, and what role(s) does he prefer and why.
In Josh Tolans’ article, “6 Problems With Job Interviews Today (And How To Fix Them)”, he notes that an interesting thing about these ‘cultural fit’ questions is that it can inject a little bit of fun into the interviewing process.  C’mon, when was the last time you had a bit of fun while interviewing?  You want the candidate’s personality to shine through, not just their professional demeanor.  Ask something like,  “How would you go about purchasing a birthday present for a friend?”  Or “Choose one word that best describes you.”
Maximize Your Chances
Tolans cites that another approach which can help maximize the likelihood of making a good ‘cultural fit’ hire is to include multiple folks in the interviewing process, so you’re able to obtain multiple perspectives of the candidate.  Consider starting with a peer interview and/or several people on the team, so the candidate has the opportunity to meet and learn more broadly about the position and the organization.  This helps reduce any bias or prejudice when assessing the candidate.  It also provides the candidate with the opportunity to see whether he can see himself as a ‘fit’ for this position and this organization.  Remember, this is a two-way proposition.

Let’s remember that while targeting interview questions which assess ‘cultural fit’ will help, at the end of the day, interviewing, no matter how well planned is still more of an ‘art’ than a ‘science’.

Good luck.

the HRmeister




Essential Elements of Employee Retention


Have you ever wondered why some of your organization’s new hires are not a good fit and leave in less than a year?  If so, you’re not alone.

 The Impact

According to Julie Kantnor, President and CEO of Twomentor, LLC, losing a Millennial employee can cost the company $15,000 to $25,000. It’s actually a lot more when you weigh in a few additional variables.

A study by the Society for Human Resource Management states that employers will need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train their replacement. That means an employee salaried at $60,000 will cost the company anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 to hire and train a replacement.

Other research shows the average costs could be even higher. In a study conducted by the Center for America Progress, the cost of losing an employee can be anywhere from 16 percent of their salary for hourly, unsalaried employees, to 213 percent of the salary for a highly trained position.

Whew! So, what’s an organization to do?

Orientation: It’s a Start

When new employees start working at your organization, what’s that experience like? A gamut of answers may have come to mind, from “not much” to “a fairly comprehensive orientation program.”

If your answer is, “We’re probably not where we’d like to be”—don’t despair. Most of us either have been or are currently in this place. Or, some might say, “We don’t have time for a formal orientation program.” I would counter with, “You don’t have the time or the money not to have a formal orientation program.” Recall the employee turnover statistics referenced above.

Consider starting at the beginning. Orientation is what you do on your first day with your new hires. Completing W-4’s, direct deposit, and I-9 forms are “orientation-type” activities. Does your New Employee Orientation Program include more than that? It can certainly contain the elements of completing all of the required paperwork, but what else should be included? Ask yourself: What are the important things new employees need to know about your organization and its culture, and who do they need to meet before they start working? Build your orientation program around these items.

Here’s an easy one: Is your new employee’s workstation (desk, area on shop floor, etc.) welcoming, clean, well-stocked and containing all of the essentials the employee will need? For example, take steps to ensure if the employee needs a phone and a computer that those items are ready and waiting. This is certainly preferable to having your new employee hunt for these essential tools. Does your organization offer your employees any branded items such as pens, mugs or t-shirts? If so, have them available on day one for your new employees.

Introduce the policies, procedures, functions, and people that your new employees need to know up-front. Remember, we want to “set our employees up for success.” To quote the late Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  This is certainly the case with your new employees.

Onboarding: Making an Investment

Another way to increase the likelihood that you will retain new employees is to create an onboarding program. New employees, particularly those who recently graduated from a technical or clinical program, may very much appreciate an opportunity to “shadow” a veteran employee or two for a period of time. Using newly-acquired skills learned in academia, and then suddenly applied on the job, is a daunting proposition for most of us. Human Resources should partner with the organization’s business leaders to create a structured, customized onboarding schedule for the new employee to shadow, learn, ask questions, and receive answers from their fellow employees before we expect them to fly solo.

Who are the people your new employee needs to meet and the systems your new employee needs to know? Tailor an onboarding program to the new hire’s position. It could last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. This will help build an employee’s knowledge, skill level, confidence and networking contacts in their new organization.

 What’s In It For Me?

Try crafting new hire orientation and onboarding programs, and compare the results against the turnover of your employees who did not receive these programs. It’s like anything else—the more time and attention you put in to it, the better your result. Ask your new employees for feedback and incorporate it into your programs. They will appreciate your efforts.

Good luck!

The HRmeister