When an employee leaves a job after just a short period, one of the questions inevitably raised is whether they were a good cultural match for the business. The person in question might have an impressive CV and performed well in the interview - but it could soon become apparent that they do not share the company outlook or perhaps struggle to get along with colleagues.
Aware that replacing a staff member is a major drain on resources, employers are increasingly prioritising a candidate's personality when taking on a new hire. But what is the best way to approach this? A more rigorous recruitment process can help reduce the risk of an ill-judged appointment.
"Culture add" is not about filling your office with carbon-copy team members who all have an identical outlook. Diversity should always be encouraged as companies comprised of people from a range of backgrounds are almost always more dynamic and successful.
Rather than looking at how people appear superficially, employers should instead try to find out whether a candidate has the right attitude. For example, would they be willing to work unsociable hours if needed or pull out all the stops to meet a deadline? It doesn't matter if members of your workforce disagree on music or football as long as, like a sports team, they can work together to get the job done.
Values vary depending on the organisation and sector; establish what yours are and also what your non-negotiable behaviours are to guide the selection process.
Similar to values, the recruitment process is an opportunity to establish the personality traits - or soft skills - most suited to your company.
This is one of the reasons why talent-pipelining using psychometric assessments plays an important role in recruitment in 2017, particularly if an employer has limited time for several rounds of interviews. Psychometrics can highlight how adaptable someone is, whether they can work independently and how adept they are at problem solving. Recruiters often undertake psychometric testing on behalf of their client to provide a short-list of people who not only have the right experience and qualifications, but also behavioural qualities.
Maximise your interview time
The all-important job interview is when an employer really makes a judgement about whether a candidate is likely to fit in, but all too often they rely on generic questions that elicit generic answers. It is, after all, an artificial situation so a nervous candidate might give stilted answers. If possible, invite them in for a trial day to see how they interact with other people in the office and get to know the 'real' person.
For businesses, our "Macildowie One" service, aims to streamline the process for clients into just one day. Recruitment can sometimes be lengthy in terms of time and this service takes the majority of work off their hands, including reading CVs, conducting first-stage interviews and creating a shortlist. All the client needs to do is set aside a day to meet the candidates and make a final decision, meaning that they steal a march over other businesses competing for the same talent.
When conducting an interview, don't forget to really listen to the candidate's answers. If someone casually mentions they are a volunteer first aider or perform in a band, it could suggest they are highly committed and good at working under pressure.
In it for the long haul
Good recruitment consultants consider their own personal brand and therefore understand the importance of building long-term relationships with candidates and clients alike in order to win "long term business". They realise that there is no point trying to force a candidate into a role just to secure the fee. An employee will soon realise if they don't fit into the environment and could spend several unhappy months languishing in a job they hate waiting for the next opportunity. Chances are they won't use that consultant when job hunting again either and nor will the employer.
It therefore makes sense for both recruiters and employers to invest time getting to know a new starter before the contract is signed, although this can be tricky in the real world. If a company urgently needs to fill a vacancy, it may have to sacrifice cultural fit for experience and qualifications, especially if there is limited resource for training. But there are alternatives, including short, fixed-term contracts or taking on freelancers and temps.
Fitting in…or shaping?
It's not always the case that a candidate will display all the right attributes from the start - otherwise there would be no room for development. This is why companies often look for the potential to grow into the team. Indeed, when it comes to taking on school-leavers and recently qualified apprentices, an employer can help to shape the work ethic they carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Similarly, a start-up business may not yet have established its core values so the initial intake of staff could help to forge them, under the direction of the leader.
Download Glassdoor's Behavioural Interviewing Questions and Templates to help ensure that your interview process leads you to the best hires. Behavioural-based interviewing is a highly effective technique used by many companies to find out more about about a candidate's skills, attitudes and values - and determine if the 'culture add' is a good one.
About the Author: James Taylor is managing director at recruitment consultancy Macildowie. He has been with the company since 1997 and has been instrumental in growing the business into one of the most respected in the industry, recognised in the Sunday Times as an "extraordinary place to work" and by the Recruiter Awards for its exceptional client service.