Interviewing for Culture Fit
You may have begun to wonder lately if ‘culture fit’ is just the latest buzz word, or if it really is an important factor in your company’s success. A company’s culture is its values, practices, attitudes, and norms that resonate in the everyday behavior of its employees. Because ‘everyday behavior’ is ultimately what determines if goals are met, sales are made, or a project gets completed, having a team who is like-minded when it comes to culture could be the difference between a thriving company and a struggling one. The person who is the best culture fit for the company will be most likely to be successful, and in turn help the rest of your team thrive as well. Thus it’s essential that hiring managers incorporate culture fit evaluation when interviewing candidates. Just ask and observe.
Ask the right questions.
To determine whether a candidate is a good culture fit, interview questions should be shaped around the company’s values and practices. If regular communication, collaboration, and teamwork are core values of the company, ask interviewees to recount an instance in which they worked as part of a team. Listen to their answers carefully. What is their style of communication? Did they handle their work independently until it was completed or was collaboration with the rest of the team an active component of the process? How do they talk about the success of the project, or their role in the team? You’re looking for people whose answers demonstrate that once they’ve onboarded with your company, they’ll be onboard with your values.
Observe their actions.
If a candidate struggles or hesitates too long to come up with a good story, this may indicate a lack of preparation as well as differing professional values from those of the hiring company. Another red flag may be a lack of passion and thoughtfulness in their answers. Observe candidates’ body language. Does their face light up as they answer a particular question? Do their hand gestures become more pronounced as they detail a specific story? Noticing these details during the interview may help you recognize their genuine feelings about particular values that are important to your company.
It’s important to hire someone who shares the values of the company and its employees, but remember that there is a difference between hiring a candidate who will be a good culture fit and hiring a candidate who will fit in. Beware of workforce homogeneity that can stunt the company’s growth. Hiring for culture fit is not about maintaining a team with the same hobbies, movie tastes, and personality—you don’t want a group of clones—but a diverse team of individuals who share common professional and personal values. This shared set of values (i.e. culture), is what allows employees to collaborate effectively and contribute to the company’s growth. As we mentioned in Part 1 (for job seekers), people spend more waking hours at work than they do at home, so it’s important for job seekers to consider organizational culture when evaluating potential employers. The same applies for hiring companies: for the best new contributor to your team, look for culture fit.