How to Hire the Right Culture Fit

Creating a strong, positive company culture is essential to thriving in a competitive market. People who are not a cultural fit are just roadblocks to your success.

What do we mean by culture fit?

Culture fit is simply the alignment between an organization’s culture and an employee’s beliefs. When the two are in alignment, your people authentically embody the values and behaviors that make up your culture. 

Cultural fit also extends beyond this alignment. It’s when an employee has the capacity and potential to positively influence and grow your culture. This is important because culture is not stagnant. It’s dynamic. It shifts based on trends, societal advancements, and your priorities. 

Think of mental health. A few decades ago, this would be taboo at work. Now, more companies are paying attention to it.

Why cultural fit is important

Cultural fit is key to your success because every person in your company shapes and protects your culture. This means you shouldn’t focus only on people who nourish your culture. You need to avoid hiring people who can harm it.

That’s why recruitment is crucial to cultivating your culture. This is the time to filter out people whose values do not align with those of the organization. Hire people who embody what your company stands for. For example, if your company believes in accountability, ensure you hire someone who believes in personal responsibility, is diligent about meeting deadlines, and understands the importance of the work they do for the organization. 

Cultural fit is important because it reduces employee turnover. Employees who align with your culture are more likely to stay. People want to feel a sense of belonging when they’re at work. When your people align with your company’s cultural beliefs, it creates that sense of belonging. A disconnect between the two makes people feel like outsiders. This could motivate them to find a company where they don’t feel that way.

A sense of belonging also affects your bottom line. When employees belong, they are more engaged in their role. That’s because they feel connected to your cultural beliefs, an important component of your culture. In turn, they feel motivated to adhere to those beliefs. This leads to higher job performance. In fact, a study found that a high sense of belonging was linked to a 56 percent increase in job performance.

While it’s important to hire people who align with your cultural beliefs, your people still need to embody them in their own unique ways. Your culture needs to be flexible enough so your people can still be their authentic selves.

Let’s say your company values transparency. You might encourage your employees to share constructive feedback about your work environment. Some people might share by speaking up at an all-hands meeting. Others may prefer to share privately with HR. Neither is wrong. As long as your people’s actions align with your values and are conducive to creating a positive culture, you should honor both ways.

This also extends to mistakes. If your employees have clearly defined cultural beliefs, then you can trust that any mistakes they make in the course of carrying out their duties are well-intentioned. Trust within your organization is vital to your success.

Define your culture

Defining your culture is the most important part of hiring for cultural fit. If you don’t know what your culture is, you won’t know what qualities to look for in candidates.

When thinking of what it means to “define your culture,” it helps to visualize the culture you wish to have in your organization, then be intentional about creating it. 

Once you clearly define your culture, recruiters and hiring managers will know what to look for when interviewing candidates. This means your people will know when a candidate should be moved forward in the hiring process. In turn, you’ll spend fewer resources on candidates who shouldn’t.

Tips on hiring for cultural fit

Show your culture

Be honest about what your culture is. Then show it. This can be done through your website, during interviews with candidates, in job postings, and more. A 2019 survey by Glassdoor found that 77 percent of adults would consider a company’s culture before applying, so don’t make candidates guess what your culture stands for.

Ask questions related to your culture

Empower hiring managers and recruiters to ask questions related to different areas of your culture. Let’s say you want to hire people who value transparency. Consider asking, “Was there a time when you made a big mistake at work? What did you do?”

Don’t settle for toxic behavior

Don’t hire a candidate with toxic behavior no matter how great their skills are. One toxic person can create a negative ripple effect on your organizational culture. Let’s say you hire an unfriendly manager. This could encourage others on the team to mirror that behavior. For employees who don’t tolerate this, that could drive them to leave your company for another one.

Lead by example

It’s not enough to say what your values are. Your leaders need to live by them through example. This is important because employee referrals remain the top source for hires.

Because your people are gateways to other great hires, you want them to praise your culture when talking to their personal connections. So it’s important to create experiences for them consistent with your desired culture. Since culture is often implemented through a top-down approach, your leaders need to set the example of what positive culture looks like.

Having the right culture for your company can give a competitive edge when hiring. Our approach helps you achieve that.

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