How to Know if They’re a Good Company Culture Fit

By November 5, 2020 No Comments

Company culture is a vital element when welcoming a new team memberFor us at Blue Lynx, recruitment done well is more than just finding a person who fits the job description. It takes more than that. It’s finding someone who will fit into your organisational culture well too.


Why is it important? One of the top reasons for high turnover is employee’s lack of compatibility with the organisation’s values and way of doing things. Recent statistics will also tell you that employees take company culture into major consideration. For many people company culture is somewhat of an abstract concept. That doesn’t have to be. 


In the next lines, you will learn:

  1. The definition of company culture
  2. How to best determine whether your prospective candidates will fit yours.

Spoiler alert: it’s not just choosing the one who is fun to be around.


What Is Company Culture?

It is the collection of values, behaviours, beliefs and attitudes that your employees share. It is what shapes the unique social environment in your organisation. You can see it under many names – organizational culture, corporate ethos, business culture. They all mean the same.


Some companies have a very well-defined culture. Others have unspoken rules and guidelines of what is acceptable and what’s not. If you are not too sure about what the culture at your company is, ask yourself this: What common traits do people in my organisation share or I would like them to?


If your company was a person, how would you describe it? In order to hire a good match, you need to have a crystal clear vision of your own company culture.


Here are some company culture FAQs:

  • Are there strict rules that everyone should follow regarding dress code, behaviour and communication? Or, do you value individualism and a relaxed working environment, instead?
  • Is working extra hours encouraged or work-life balance is a priority at your organisation?
  • Do you believe in micromanagement or do you want employees to be independent decision-makers?
  • How do you deliver and expect feedback to be delivered by employees? 
  • Is there a concrete company structure or there is a flat hierarchy?
  • What communication and management styles are encouraged in the company at all levels?


When you are done defining and describing your organisational ethos, make sure to communicate it well on all channels possible. Start with your website (the Mission, Vision and Values sections, for example) and weave it into the job description. Don’t forget to incorporate it into the internal communication with your employees. Everyone must be on the same page.


Why Hire for Culture Fit?

Hiring managers often fall for choosing candidates based on a likeable personality. If you will be spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with this person, it might as well be some who is pleasant to interact with. But this actually has less to do with cultural compatibility than you think. 


The culture fit factor comes into consideration only when you have two or more candidates with similar skills. We’d argue that corporate culture compatibility is of equal importance. Why?


Because culture is harder to teach than technical skills. We learned that in the 30+ years of recruiting and working with candidates.


Research shows employees often leave because of mismatch with the organisational ethos. High employee turnover may end up costing you a lot, depending on the role and contract. But even if they decide to stay, morale and productivity will likely decrease for cultural misfits. So, it’s best to make sure there is no discrepancy from the start. 


Nothing sums it up better than this famous Peter Drucker quote: 

”Culture eats strategy for breakfast”


How to Find a Good Match?

So, how do you go about making the decision if someone is a good fit for the company culture at your organisation? Follow these three steps or incorporate them into your already-established approach.


           1. Start looking for certain personality traits early on

Once you have a good knowledge of your corporate identity, develop a culture assessment framework. Start looking for potential traits as soon as possible. It’s best to spot red flags before they start working for you.

In the process of filling a position, you will encounter some key moments of interaction with candidates. Each gives you a chance to assess cultural compatibility.


The qualification process. If, you as a decision-maker, won’t take part in the hiring stages, take the time to explain the company culture and values to your outsourced recruitment specialist. They will be representing your organisation and interests. They will be the first filter, so to say.

It’s important to observe the candidate’s attitude at this early stage. Do a reference check. Ask questions that hint toward how the person has reacted in complex situations. Ask them how well they fit in their last team and company, how well they brought out the values of their former organisation.


The interview: Whether it’s done online or in person, a direct interview with the candidate gives you the chance to get to know them first-hand. In this stage, you can directly ask them whether they are aware of the values, mission and vision of your company. Some candidates do their research and get acquainted with those through the website. Hence it is important to have them written out and communicated throughout your channels. 


In their communication style: Over the course of the hiring process, you will have exchanged at least a couple of emails and phone calls with the candidate. Those are early signs about the cultural compatibility of the candidate. We’re not talking about looking for typos or lack of structure. Do they communicate in a clear and effective manner? Do they show the right level of enthusiasm or attention to detail? Their application or cover letter can tell you a lot about them too.


         2. Ask the right questions

You could go straight to the point by incorporating a question linked to your company values. Ask them what they think about those, do they see themselves fit for that framework and mindset. 

Or, you can go about it in a more covert manner. Try situational questions. “What would you do if/when…” allows you to assess how well they can prioritise. That’s handy to know if there is a hierarchic structure of values in your organisation (for example, Disney’s 4 Keys for exceptional guest experience).

If you need more ideas or expertise on how to ask culture fit interview questions, we would be happy to give you some tips and tricks. Contact us for a consultation.


         3. Introduce them to the team before hiring

Even in times like these, when in-person interviews are a rare occasion, it’s still possible to introduce an interviewee with future team members. Why is it a good measurement for culture fit? Not only are you are putting the candidate’s soft skills to a test. But you can also observe interaction with other team members. It is a valid indicator of how successfully they will blend in. 


In Conclusion…

Hiring for a culture fit might be tricky. Yet, necessary if you want long-term hiring success and low employee turnover. Once you define your company culture, all you have to do is lookout for good matches that have the talent that your organisation needs. Our recruitment experts have been doing it for over 30 years. We’re here if you need help.