corporate culture

There are all kinds of books on how to hire a new employee. How write the job description. How and where to post the opening. Questions to ask during the interview, these are all important factors. Often overlooked in this process is how the candidate will fit within the corporate culture.

What Constitutes Corporate Culture?

In a previous article we defined corporate culture as the intersection between Vision, Mission and Core Values. Said in another way, the organizations culture is:

  • Who we are
  • What we do
  • How we do it
  • Where we are going
  • Why we do what we do

Culture is everything in an organization. Think back in your own experiences with the co-workers or employees who just did not fit in. What was it about them? Why did then not fit? I can bet the answer will come back to they just didn’t like to do what we do, or believe in how we do it.

Why is Hiring for Culture so Important?

The results are hiring people who do not fit within the current culture is that they usually either quit, or get fired. If neither of those options present themselves, these people usually become a cancer within the organization. Far too often organizations put up with the misfit because they are good at their job. The reality is that it does not matter how skilled they are in the position. A cancerous employee will eventually drag the rest of the company down.
So, Hiring for Culture is so Important, How do we do it?

The first step is to recognize your cultural norms, if you have not gone through this process with all of your existing employees, do it now! Insuring everyone understands and buys in is a very important first step. If you have not formally created the culture you want, be assured there is one that has been created for you. Understanding what your people are doing, how they are doing it, and why they are doing it matters. If during this process you have a culture that you did not intend, don’t fret, there is time to change it.

The key here is hire for the culture you have in place, and not necessarily the one you want to create. The reason you hire for the culture you have, is that the new employees will have to fit in right away. If their values do not match those of your current staff, you will soon be looking for another to replace the one that will leave.

Weed Out Those You Know Will Not Fit

After you post your opening, you will receive resumes and inquiries from people who believe they are qualified or believe they can convince you they are. Quickly scan those incoming resumes for the items that are important to you. Typically, people look for education and experience first. That is fine, but there is much more. Many companies may look for formatting, grammar and spelling. Others will look for gaps in employment. My company also looks for interests outside of the office. This gives us an idea on what is important to the candidate and the first glimpse of cultural fit.

We then narrow down that list with a phone interview. During this interview, we tend to talk about the parts of the job that may be seen as negative. We do this to weed people out. The theory is that if they can get past the negative items and still want the job, the great things we have to offer will make them appreciate the company even more.

Face to Face Interviews

The next step is the face to face interview. We actually do three of these. During the interview, we ask questions to get the candidate to tell us more about themselves. We ask for stories from their past on how they view the circumstances they have described. These stories give us greater insight into the type of person we are sitting across from. More importantly the stories provide the interviewer with information that will help decide it this is someone we want to spend time with. Will they fit in.

Each of the three interviews is conducted by a different interviewer.
One of the interviews will actually test the person on some of the claims they have made on the application. Personally, I do not care if the candidate can operate Excel (or any other task), I care that they are honest about their qualifications. We believe we can teach the skills needed for the position, but we cannot teach integrity.

Involve Others

The main reason we use multiple interviews and different people conducting them is that we want a range of opinions on each candidate. We bring the three interviewers into a meeting and openly discuss the merits of the hire. This is typically a very detailed discussion. It is always centered around our Core Values and whether, or not, we believe the candidate shares those values. We ask each person to share a part of the candidate’s story that either validates or invalidates what it is we are looking for in the person.

If we get consensus, we then make an offer. If we do not, we continue to look. Our process takes time, and this time is fairly expensive, but it is far less expensive than getting the wrong person on board.