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That Candidate Looks Great on Paper – But Will They Fit Your Culture? (part 1)

It doesn’t make sense.

After hiring what you thought was the ideal candidate – someone with the right skills and background, and an appropriate level of experience – you watched them flounder. Despite your best efforts, within a few months, they crashed and burned. Where did your hiring process go wrong?

Maybe they weren’t the right culture fit.

As our organizations become flatter, they become more dependent upon dynamic teams, project-based work and collaborative environments. It’s no longer enough to find candidates with the right skills and experience. For a new hire to succeed long-term, they must get along with others well and mesh with the existing culture. Here’s why:

  • A candidate who is a good cultural fit feels a greater sense of belonging. Those who feel connected to their work perform better and stay longer.
  • People who gel with teammates build stronger relationships. The sense of security they feel frees them to share new ideas without fear of ridicule, and promotes constructive conflict that’s actually healthy for organizations.

With unemployment as low as it is, you may be grateful for any candidate who has the ability to do a job. But don’t compromise your standards. Given how expensive a bad hire can be, it pays to invest adequate time and effort in assessing a candidate’s cultural fit. Below, our Lebanon recruiters share tactics for gauging how well a job seeker will mesh with your team:

Define your culture.

Obviously, you must first understand your existing culture before you can determine whether a candidate is a good match for it. Take time to define significant aspects of your culture, such as:

  • expectations for work schedules, off-hours availability, travel and telecommuting
  • ethics, morals and values
  • management style and decision-making processes
  • how communication takes place
  • how your organization defines and rewards success
  • how failures and setbacks are handled

Provide realistic work previews.

Give your candidate a glimpse of what it would actually like to perform the job. Work simulations and/or the ability to shadow an employee allows candidates to self-select out of consideration. Similarly, feedback from the employee shadowed, as well as the results of a work simulation, provide managers with additional insights about a candidate’s suitability.

Consider peer interviews.

In many cases, an individual’s potential peers are ideally suited to assess team compatibility. Here are two options for implementing this idea:

  • Have a potential co-worker give the candidate a tour, asking questions along the way and making introductions to other team members.
  • Arrange a brief panel interview, where the candidate fields questions from, and asks questions of, select team members.

Whether interviews are formal or informal, group or individual, make sure all interviewers are properly trained on your company’s interview procedures.

Use references.

Ask the candidate to provide a list of peers, managers or other contacts who would be willing to speak about the prospective employee’s work style. When checking references, probe to learn more about the candidate’s interactions with co-workers, attitude, personality and ability to work with different types of people.

Ask interview questions to assess cultural fit.

In our next post, we’ll share interview questions you can customize to gauge how well a candidate is likely to fit in your organization.

Find the right fit with Wood Personnel.

Hiring individuals with the right skills, experience and cultural fit is critical to growing your team – but it requires specialized expertise. If you lack the time, skill or internal resources to recruit and evaluate talent, partner with our Lebanon recruiting agency. With decades of experience and proven talent screening and selection tools, Wood can quickly deliver a short list of top candidates with the knowledge, experience and intangibles to thrive in your organization.