Hiring for Fit – Find and Hire Culture Matches

Finding a good fit for a culture may not simply be a matter of matching candidates to the existing workforce. Hiring clones is usually a bad idea because it stifles creativity. Hiring for future needs without clearly visualizing the future culture is worse, but there is no doubt that culture is a major impact on hiring. A study by Leadership IQ reported that 46% of new hires will fail within 18 months. These failures were not because of some technical incompetence, but primarily because of a cultural mismatch. Managers surveyed stated that poor interpersonal skills were the most significant flaw and admitted that this was overlooked during interviews. 82% of the managers also reported that in hindsight there were telltale clues that were alerting them to a dangerous undercurrent that went unnoticed. Focus on other issues blurred their vision and mistakes were made.

The problem with taking such surveys at face value is that culture can become the scapegoat for failures within the new hire rather than a simple mismatch to the workforce. Making the assumption that there is a cultural match for every candidate and blaming a single failure on a mismatch is basically flawed. The truth that nobody ever wants to mention is that some candidates may not fit into any culture and are candidates for a personal and private epiphany somewhere else and not employment. There is no inherent right to work at any particular company and there is no obligation to fix people that are broken. It also points out the basic flaws in most interview processes in that so many do get hired when they should not be.

Culture will happen even if it is not planned. A superior culture takes work:

  • Perform a culture audit. Never accept status quo or “it is what it is” as the norm. Determine what direction the company needs to go and visualize the culture necessary to make it happen.
  • Define company culture with measurable values and behaviors. If it cannot be measured, it is not real. Only when employee energy is expended to produce desired outcomes is the desired culture working.
  • Communicate the company values and behaviors. Emphasize that this is not just another management platitude but a serious message. “The customer is always right” or “Employees are our biggest asset” are slogans, not a success mantra.
  • Enforce the cultural norms by incorporating it into performance management. If it is important, give it teeth and make it an equal partner to accomplishment of personal objectives in determining a performance rating. When bonuses are tied equally to believing, accepting, and promoting company values it will be real.
  • Train employees to recognize opportunities to succeed by defining success. Lead with examples of how to do it right and reward those that exemplify the best of the desired culture.
  • Recruit candidates that already have the seeds of company core values in their makeup. Train interviewers to ask behavioral questions that will test cultural fit and probe deeply into each candidate’s coachability, temperament, motivation, and emotional intelligence.
  • Allow candidates to self-disqualify if after hearing the expected cultural values and behaviors they recognize that it is a path to failure for them. Desperation to find a job is not a basic core value that should be rewarded with a job offer.

Hiring for cultural fit also means managing for cultural fit. Those coveted top boxes on the org chart must be populated with believers, not pretenders.



Image credit: stylephotographs / 123RF Stock Photo