Interview (1)

Finding the right talent is vital to any company’s success. Both top performers and low performers can have a direct and enduring impact on an organisation’s performance. Today’s hiring managers need to quickly, efficiently and effectively identify the best possible candidates to move their companies forward. Making a bad hire will cost your business lost time and money.

In recent years, culture fit has become an increasingly important part of how companies think about potential employees. While years of experience, a desirable skill set and tenure with leading companies might make a candidate look good on paper, an individual’s inability to fit in culturally can contribute to negativity in the office, conflict between co-workers and loss of productivity.

Smart companies implement a well thought-out strategy for interviews that enables them not only to identify a candidate’s skill level, but also his or her cultural fit for the team. While easier said than done, here are four tips to consider when looking to hire the perfect ‘all-round’ candidate:

  1. Map interview questions against your company values.
Given the relative newness of cultural fit as a screening technique for potential employees, it’s no surprise that many companies get this wrong, using cultural interviews as an opportunity to ask candidates about their hobbies, the craziest thing they’ve ever done or even worse, their spirit animal. These kinds of questions almost always fail to reveal much about the candidate that would be useful from the perspective of a potential employer.

A far better way to assess culture fit is to devise a list of questions that map to your company values. (Before you can do this, you need to put pen to paper and write down your company values if you haven’t already done so.) Here are just a few examples:

  • “How do you communicate with your team?” “Can you give me an example of a difficult conversation you had with a team member?”
  • “What kinds of people do you find difficult to work with?”
  • “Which values matter to you when choosing a company to work for?”
  • “Why are you excited about our mission?”
  1. Dig into motivations.
Recruiting expert Lou Adler advocates the idea of digging into a candidate’s individual motivations in addition to his or her core competencies in order to find exceptional individuals. One question Adler believes is critical to this approach involves asking a candidate what they believe their biggest accomplishment to be – either professional or personal. A good response will have elements of self-discovery, selflessness and humility. For example, the candidate will discuss a situation in which they overcame a challenge, re-engineered a process or solved a problem. They will also make sure to describe what they learned from the experience and mention other people that played a key role in helping them in their accomplishment. Asking follow up questions such as “why is that?” or “what exactly was your role?” or even “why did you choose this example?” are good ways to peel back a layer and really understand candidate motivations and their underlying personality.
  1. Do thorough reference checks.
Understanding how a candidate behaved in previous roles will help you better predict how they are likely to behave in future roles and within your organisation. Behavioural questions include:
  • How has the candidate dealt with feedback in the past?
  • Can you describe the type of environment the candidate worked best in?
  • Is there any situation or an example you can share in which you had to remind the candidate to do something more than once?
  • Do you have any advice for me as their future manager?
Many references are, understandably, hesitant to give negative feedback, which is why it’s important to ask leading questions that dig into any lingering concerns you have at this stage of the interview process. So for example, if you have questions about a candidate’s ability to keep up with deadlines based on something they’ve shared, you could ask something along the lines of “Elizabeth shared that she sometimes had trouble keeping up with the pace of work at Company X. Could you talk more about that?”

Cultural compatibility leads to productivity

The cultural fit of a candidate has become increasingly important to organisations; as such businesses must consider this during the interview phase – along with the traditional sought-after skills and capabilities. Companies that take the time to adjust their interview process to understand the personal profile of a candidate and hire those whose values, motivations and passions align with those of the organisation and other employees, will ultimately retain talent much longer, developing a cohesive and productive workforce that will take the business from strength-to-strength.

By Sophie Adelman, Head of EMEA Sales, Hired