How to Hire for Culture Fit

Culture fit in the workplace can be the golden ticket to securing on-the-job success. In Recruitment, getting this part of the jigsaw wrong could lead to low retention, high costs and a poor employer brand. Get it right and you’re on track to ensuring the right people in the right place at the right time.

I recently shared ‘3 Interview Tips to Help You Find Your Culture Fit’ on LinkedIn, supporting candidates to find the right employer. Now let’s move across to the employer’s seat, where success requires some groundwork in the lead up to interview stage. Here is my advice for hiring for your organisation’s culture to ensure you recruit employees that will stay, feel great and make a positive difference to the business.

1. Know Your Employees

shutterstock_573611710Put simply, ensure you understand the workforce you are adding to before you add to it.

Perhaps your company has communicated values, behaviours and a mission statement. Find out if your employees share and demonstrate these (if not, do they need to change?). Know what drives employees at your organisation, what gets them out of bed in the morning and why they work where they work. Get to know why people leave and why people stay – this will help you understand what makes a <inset your company name here> employee.

2. Get Your Employer Brand Right

Armed with knowledge of your employees, combined with knowledge of the business and its direction, you’ll need some marketing expertise and a passion for the brand to share the right image of your company as an employer.

Ensure your employer brand is aligned with your customer brand, incorporates your employee insights, has leadership buy-in and a clear purpose. Who do you want to attract, why and how? If employees are leaving with short-service because they feel misled or disappointed, it is likely that your employer brand needs some attention. Don’t just attract anyone; attract the people that will fit.

3. Ask the Right Questions at Interview

So you know what you are looking for in your next hire, your brand is attracting great candidates… now it’s time to ensure you get the right-fit talent through the door. Interviews are not just an opportunity to find out about skills, knowledge and behaviours, but the chance to predict how a potential hire might adapt to life in your workplace. Here are some questions you might consider:

Why did you leave your last job?

It’s a classic interview question, but don’t just ask it. Use it as an opportunity to find out about the candidate’s last or current work experience, if appropriate.

Describe your ideal workplace / management style / job.shutterstock_552386662

Asking the candidate to speak about their utopia allows you to assess the likelihood of them being happy in your organisation. This question enables you to explore what makes the candidate tick and perhaps what type of workplace would not be suitable.

What did you learn in your last job?

This will draw out approaches to challenge, pressure and initiative. Listen outside the obvious, where answers relate to personal growth rather than skills gained on a training programme. How the candidate speaks of previous employers will also give you some insight into their personality.

What do you expect it would be like to work here?

The candidate’s interpretation of the company and role may differ to your intentions. How closely their expectations match reality will help determine their cultural fit. Consider whether the candidate who is looking forward to working in an autonomous environment will be the right hire, if you know the structure is much more traditional.

What frustrates you? / What motivates you?

Everyone has drivers, just like everyone has challenges. These questions (or variances of them – try ‘bores’ and ‘inspires’) will help you get to know the candidate. Recruiting all employees in mirror image of one another is not a good idea so bear that in mind, but look out for any red lights that suggest a poor fit.

Finding great hires that fit your organisation’s culture needn’t be difficult, but it does require dedication and commitment. Know your employees, get your employer brand right, ask the right questions at interview and you will be better placed to offer candidates who will not only stay and enjoy themselves, but will make a positive difference to the working environment and the wider company.

What’s next? If you are considering a HR consultant to drive forward company culture management, from aligning your employer brand to engaging your employees, contact Stevie Barnes to find out how People² can support your business and workplace.


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