You’ve heard it enough times, “Hire for cultural fit, train for skills.” It makes sense, it creates cohesive workforces and reduces retention rates –but how exactly do companies assess a cultural fit? Companies like Zappos that are known for their focus on cultural fit and employee engagement have taken to adding a whole other interview to the hiring process, called the culture interview. Here’s what a cultural interview looks like.

Define the Culture

We’re not talking about using “fit” as an excuse to pass on people you don’t like, or who aren’t dressed the same as the cool kids. Real cultural fit is assessed with a solid definition of the culture of the workforce, not a feeling recruiters get in the interview process.

Culture is based on the core values of the company –the mission, goals and business objectives that set you apart from your competition. For instance, if one of your company’s values is a focus on being environmentally friendly and your candidate roles up in a Hummer, you can probably assume their values are not in line with those of the organization.

In an inspiring and helpful piece from OpenX CEO, Tim Cadogan, he shares lessons on how to define company values. Cadogan said:

“Taking advantage of this opportunity to involve everyone in explicitly codifying our values, I began gathering everyone in the company in groups of 8-10 and talking about what we all wanted our company to be like and how we wanted to interact with each other and our customers. A key part of the process was for me to lead and facilitate the discussion but not to shape the conversation too much. Out of that we synthesized five clear and distinct values that spoke to the ethos we were trying to create.”

Create Thoughtful Interview Questions

Now that the culture has been defined, the recruitment team can take the individual values that complete the culture, and craft thoughtful questions that will either identify those values in candidates, or reveal their absence. While these questions will all be different based on the organization’s unique values, Hubspot, known for their strongcompany culture, offers several generic suggestions, and here are a few:

“What concerns to you have about our company?”

“What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?”

“Tell me about a time when you had to slog your way through a ton of work. How did you get through it?”

Rate and Weed

This is the point in the recruitment process that the recruiter will compare the rated results of both the skills interview and the culture interview. If neither are rated, this process can get muddy quickly. The right candidate will meet the minimum skill requirements and have a strong cultural fit. One or the other simply won’t do.

HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Member, Chris Havrilla (@Havrilla) challenges decision makers to “Own who they are as a team”. Havrilla said:

“…it’s time to get even more granular. What are the team dynamics? Who are the players? How would someone new coming in interact with existing employee? What role would they play?  See beyond tasks and responsibilities to how people function together.  Know who you are so you can assess appropriately.”

Hiring for cultural fit isn’t really a difficult task, but it’s nearly impossible if the culture isn’t defined and communicated. That first step is crucial to keep the organization on their projected path. Even the most defined values won’t be learned or lived through osmosis; they have to be a part of every hiring decision the company makes.

We would like to help you make cultural fit a stronger part of the recruitment process. Our applicant tracking software allows decision makers to concentrate on the human side of human resources, while tech takes care of the rest. 

Visit our main blog.

photo credit: benjaminasmith via photopin cc

Views: 142

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on April 21, 2014 at 12:45pm

When someone mentions cultur(al firt), I reach for my Mauser"

I think this is largely a waste of resources:

I believe "cultural fit" means: "you get along with a lot of people that the bosses like.".

1) You don't need to get along with a lot of people here, largely just the ones you deal with day to day.

2) The less actual face-time you have with someone, the less they have to "fit in", e.g.while someone might not be tolerable around you 40 hrs/week, they might be tolerable around you 16 hours/week. This is "another good argument for maximizing tele-work.

3) If people are only going to be there for a few years (and realistically in most dynamic orgs. that's likely to be the case), it matters less how they fit in for the "long haul"- we live increasingly in an ii'll be gone, you'll be gone, let's do the deal" world.

4) The presumptions that the culture you have (aka: the way the founders want it to be) is the way it should be and that it's how it should remain in the future as the company grows and adapts are both dangerous to make and probably false.

5) What the words say and the actions that result from them are often far apart.



Consequently, time, money, and effort devoted to C'orporate culture" could mo


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