Company culture encompasses everything that makes an organisation special. Culture is shared, pervasive, enduring, and implicit. It can be hard to define, but everyone knows it’s there.1
Why is Culture Fit Important?
In terms of employee satisfaction, it doesn’t matter how good someone is at their job; if they don’t fit in, they won’t be happy. Between 10-25% of new hires leave within six months of their start date. 2 One commonly cited reason is a poor fit between the employee and the company culture3 — and high turnover can cost your business dearly in terms of time, money and reputation.
Defining Your Company’s Culture:
You can’t hire for culture fit until you hone in on the values that set you apart from everyone else.
- Review your mission statement: Start by reviewing your company manifesto and mission statement. Aside from making money, what are your aims as a business? Do you actively want to make a difference to the community, solve a global problem, or change attitudes?
- Draw up a list of company values: Consider your employees’ day-to-day experiences. Are they expected to meet tight deadlines as part of a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture, or is the environment more laidback? Do you value traditional ways of working, or are you constantly trying new approaches? Draw up a list of values that you think sum up your organisation.
- Get feedback from every level of the organisation: Use Glassdoor reviews and anonymous employee surveys to discover what people like and dislike about working for your company. Larger organisations can assemble culture committees or choose culture champions who can identify areas for improvement. Offer every employee, from those in the C-suite to entry-level workers, a chance to give their perspective.
How to Hire for Culture Fit
1. Make your values clear to candidates
Take every opportunity to communicate your values. Mention them on your company website, on your Glassdoor profile and in your job advertisements. Add photos to your Glassdoor profile that show what it’s really like to work in your company.
By showcasing your culture and values at every opportunity, you will attract the candidates that identify most with them — and they’re more likely to be the perfect fit you’re looking for.
2. Ask the right questions in interview
In an interview, connect questions directly back to your list of company values. Use competency-based questions to check that the candidate can make choices that uphold your culture. For instance, if you value creativity, be sure to ask them to tell you about a time they had to devise a new way of working or solve a problem in a creative way.
Show them the company culture in action. Give them a tour of the workplace.4 Let them speak to a few employees. When you get back to the interview room, ask the candidate for their thoughts. Could they imagine themselves working there? Why or why not?
3. Dive deeper with personality tests
You can also use personality tests to measure culture fit — but you need to be clear on what you are measuring and why.5 Test your highest performing employees and see if you can spot any patterns — and then look for those same patterns in your candidates’ tests.
For example, do the best leaders in the organisation score highly on measures of extraversion? If so, it would be a good idea to favour extraverted candidates when hiring for a management position. Don’t forget to account for differences in culture across departments. Some traits might make a candidate the perfect match for a human resources role, for example, but not for a sales role.
There is no universal set of “right” or “wrong” traits; just better and worse fit. If your company values teamwork and close working relationships, you may want to measure temperament and conflict resolution skills. On the other hand, if most employees work autonomously, resourcefulness and decision-making might be more important.
Hiring for culture fit isn’t about building a workforce made up of clones. Most of us have unconscious biases and tend to gravitate towards people “like us.”6
Fortunately, being clear on your values and deciding precisely what you need to measure during the recruitment process will prevent bias. For example, use rating scales to grade candidates’ responses to culture-based questions and only use personality tests if you can justify them.
Conclusion: As you refine your hiring process and improve your organisation’s culture, you’ll start attracting higher calibre candidates. Companies with a strong, positive culture are more successful and enjoy better reputations as places to work.7 Start making culture fit a priority and you’ll build a thriving workforce.
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1. Groysberg, B., Lee, J., Price, J., & Cheng, J. Y. (2018). The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture.
2. Korn Ferry. (2017). Korn Ferry Futurestep Survey: 90 Percent Of Executives Say New Hiring Retention An Issue.
3. Howard, S. (2019). Reason #4 why employees quit: Poor organizational fit.
4. TalentWorks International. (n.d.). How Important Is Company Culture To Candidates?
5. Gassam, J. (2018). How To Avoid Discrimination When Assessing Culture Fit.
6. Knight, R. (2018). 7 Practical Ways to Reduce Bias in Your Hiring Process.
7. Herway, J. (2018). 3 Principles for Creating a Profitable Company Culture.