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Culture Fit: Why is it so important?

8 Dec 2017

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Do your hiring decisions come down to a toss up between skill set vs. culture fit? Compromising on either will prove a disservice to your business and the candidate. The individual may be exceptional at the job, but may not thrive in your working environment. On the other hand, immediate synergy can be blinding and skills assessments fall by the wayside.

The statistics speak for themselves. Poor culture fit can reduce engagement and increase employee turnover; a massive 46% turnover within 18 months of a new role according to Leadership IQThis can cost a business between 50-60% of the individual’s salary (SHRM). Whereas, employees who value-match a working culture have reported higher job satisfaction, improved performance and are more likely to stay in a business for longer. Win-Win if you ask us.

Embracing Culture

In order to appropriately assess the cultural fit of a candidate, a business needs to be able to effectively define and embrace their true cultural values. Employees should be able to articulate these values, business goals, and how they merge for success. Culture is not about pool tables, and boozy lunches – it’s embedded in the way we work and our processes. This is your starting point to completely and honestly understand what you’re looking for in your next employee.

Don’t forget about diversity…

Hiring for cultural fit does not mean finding people who slot neatly into a comfy business mould. There is a common misconception that the term ‘fit’ excludes and discriminates against people who may have great skills to offer. However, a company culture informs the way people work and interact, an individual who is divergent from these values, regardless of skill, won’t share the company’s sense of purpose. So finding a happy medium is vital.

‘Fit’ is also a limiting term.  We all want Individuals who can add and contribute to your cultural environment. Your processes and ways of thinking are constantly in flux, therefore think of your values structure as broad parameters, not as tight boxes. So never underestimate the power of diversity – your A-players should be the ones who not only embody your values but push them and enable your business to grow.

Assessing Fit

Your hiring process needs to be awesome at assessing and evaluating the right talent (for both skills and culture). Don’t just go on feeling (although don’t ignore feeling either), but get some evidence to back it up.

Below are a few questions that we use to help assess culture fit:

What type of culture do you thrive in?

This allows the candidate free reign to discuss their preferred working style, as opposed to asking them to map onto our cultural scale which can often lead to biased results.

How would you describe our culture based on what you’ve seen?

This isn’t a trick question – it’s a way of proving that our culture elicits a particular perception. Usually candidates are able to identify traits and values that resonate with them, rather than those which don’t.

What do you value in an ideal workplace?

This gives space for free through and discussion.

Describe the management style that will bring about your best work.

A chance to match the candidate’s preferences with the management style of your business.

Don’t go in blind. Plan ahead. What are the ideal responses to these questions? Try them out on your team and see what appears. Although they are a good starting point, one conversation with a few of these questions  isn’t enough to establish true evidential fit. A casual chat over lunch outside of the interview environment will help you to get to know the candidate. Try something experimental, get them involved in a real life situation in your business and observe how they perform. Get them to meet other members of the team to get the full picture.

Take cultural assessment a step further

Lucky for us, the likes of ThriveMap and WeLoveWork are one step ahead of the curve and are bringing a little intelligence to this process. These guys can not only help you to establish and define your culture, but appropriately and authentically assess a candidate in line with these values.

Screening is super fast and simple, these platforms improve hiring accuracy and team performance. Both assessments have been formed through rigorous testing and statistically validated data to produce a cultural fit score which determines how well suited a candidate is to your organisation.

We’ve spent a lot of time assessing our internal culture to ensure that the people we bring on board are going to really drive our mission to #reinventrecruitment. We use this to develop a behavioural guide when hiring – whilst remembering that we’re all human and can’t be stuck into tiny boxes. Get in touch and find out how we’re championing cultural fit for ourselves and our clients.