In the words of the corpses in The Nightmare Before Christmas, “This is Halloween.” It’s a time filled with scary movies, fantastic costumes, candy, and – the real horror – villain look-a-likes in the office. These individuals ruin company culture quicker than a cinematic serial killer takes his victims.

Hannibal Lecter

“Hello Clarice…” possibly one of the most intimidating phrases in cinematic history. Likewise, what’s the most intimidating phase of the hiring process for candidates? The interview. Recruiters, who are anything but comforting and relaxing during the interview process, kill the company culture before the candidate is even offered the job. Only 36% of HR departments are responsible for employer branding strategy this year. It stands to reason that many interviews could have gone better if the employer branding was more clearly conveyed.

Ghost Face

The Scream movies became a staple of 90s horror films, and countless Halloween costumes are spawned from the movie’s villain, Ghost Face. The mask has become the epitome of scary Halloween costumes, and it's overused and generic. Every office has that one employee, the new hire who is always generic about company projects, and high on company culture… it can be irritating. The trend for hiring managers is to hire for attitude because the theory is skills can be taught. With 81% of new hires failing within the first 18 months due to a cultural mismatch, it is understandable that the ones who are left are corporately enthusiastic.


Saw, and all of the sequels, feature a character who uses puzzles and observes from a distance. In fact, he gives directions to his victims through a television screen. A supervisor who manages from a distance, not really involved in office activities, but manipulates them, does little to enhance office culture. Dealing with manipulative supervisors is difficult, primarily because it’s hard to identify manipulators in the first place. However, once you recognize the behavior, subtly stand up to the cultural manipulation with distance, and ask questions like, “Does this seem fair?” and “Do I have a say in this?” 

Patrick Bateman

Obsessively well-dressed businessman, American Psycho character Patrick Bateman flies off the handle and screams at his victims. Alpha-males and type-A personalities aren’t easy to deal with, especially when they have a tendency towards aggressive behavior. Because hostility is most easily observed through speech, the fact that 38% of communication is through tone of voice becomes a problem. Keeping an open field of communication, and constant feedback with your team can help to minimize aggressive behavior at work as much as possible.   

John Doe

The thieving serial killer… I won’t go into detail, but if you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what he did at the end of the film Se7en. Particularly maniacal, the cultural killer manager that takes credit for something they didn’t do is quite possibly the worst. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon for team leaders and managers to do. You can combat this cultural misbehavior with simple documentation of your work and not assuming the worst. It’s important to give your supervisor the benefit of the doubt, and realize credit may not have been taken intentionally in the first place. 

None of these villains are the victor at the end of the movies, so there is hope for your culture yet. However, it’s hard to repair the damage once it’s been done. Not everyone is happy with where their company culture currently is. An overwhelming 51% of respondents in a Strategy& survey said their company is in need of a cultural overhaul. Moreover, 45% don’t think that culture is effectively managed in their company. There are cultural serial killers running loose in your office. Their habits need to be addressed, and with some gentle guidance, nipped in the bud. 

Bio: Sean Pomeroy, CEO

Sean has worked in the Human Resources industry since he graduated from Radford University with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. After working in HR as a generalist for a government contracting company, he moved to the HR Technology arena and began assisting companies in the selection and implementation of HR software.

While selling other companies software solutions, Sean worked with Michael Warden to design over a dozen applications for different organizations and industries over the years. Sean now focuses on the vision for the company, business development, and continues involvement in the software design of Cyber Recruiter and Cyber Train.

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