Many factors go into a company’s decision to hire someone: the candidate’s experience, talent, skills, and ability to communicate, for starters.
But while a sparkling resume and impressive job interview are still important considerations, a job prospect’s ability to fit the company’s culture has never been more critical in the hiring process, says Joel Patterson, a workplace culture expert, founder of The Vested Group and ForbesBooks author of The Big Commitment: Solving The Mysteries Of Your ERP Implementation.
“Companies head into a new year full of uncertainty and are coming off a year of so much change and disruption,” Patterson says. “These challenges test the strength of a work culture, and as companies seek stability, adaptability, and growth, finding the right culture fit is the most crucial factor in choosing a new hire.
“An aligned team will work far better together, be more productive individually, and feel more satisfied in their roles overall. And with more people working remotely, keeping your culture strong and your workflow cohesive is imperative. Adding new people should only serve to enhance it.”
Patterson offers five tips on how to hire for culture fit:
- Define and document core values. “First of all, ensure that your company has a set of values, which are the foundation of the culture,” Patterson says. “Company values show what the founder and management hold as important and the behaviors they expect employees to uphold. Spend time analyzing and fine-tuning your company values and document them into clear, specific words.”
- Display company culture on the website and social media. “When researching the company, job candidates should get a glimpse of the work culture before the interview and decide if it fits them,” Patterson says. “The company needs to be clear about its core values and promote its environment so it can appeal to the best candidates. Value statements conveyed in content, slides and videos should appear in the company’s careers section, corporate blogs, and social media posts.”
- Ask culture-focused questions during the interview. It’s vital for those interviewing candidates to have a firm grasp of the work culture and to ask questions that relate directly to it. “The interviewer should build a picture of who this candidate is both inside and outside the office,” Patterson says. “Ask them things like, what’s their most positive personality trait and their worst, and why for both. What type of team do they thrive in? Have they read our values? Which one resonates the most with them? What have their past relationships with co-workers, managers, and clients been like?”
- Let candidates interact with staff. A prospect can say all the right things during an interview, but how they interact with employees can be more telling about whether they’re a culture fit. “Those who do well in interviews and make the short list should be brought back for extensive interaction with staff members,” Patterson says. “You can determine a lot by how engaged they are, what questions they ask, and how employees react to them generally in normal conversation.”
- Research your process. Between hirings, Patterson says it’s a good idea to ask around and see if your process reflected your company culture. “Ask recent hires what worked and what didn’t,” he says. “If possible, track down candidates to whom you offered jobs but they turned them down. Find out why. You can always improve your hiring practices so they better align with the company culture.”
“Company culture provides your team with direction and is effectively the glue that binds the team,” Patterson says. “To keep improving it means hiring with culture fit top of mind. Employees who embrace your culture boost morale and productivity and positively impact future recruiting.”
Joel Patterson () is the founder of The Vested Group, a business technology consulting firm in the Dallas, Texas, area, and ForbesBooks author of The Big Commitment: Solving The Mysteries Of Your ERP Implementation. He has worked in the consulting field for over 20 years. Patterson began his consulting career at Arthur Andersen and Capgemini before helping found Lucidity Consulting Group in 2001. For 15 years he specialized in implementing Tier One ERP, software systems designed to service the needs of large, complex corporations. In 2011, Patterson founded The Vested Group, which focuses on bringing comprehensive cloud-based business management solutions to start-ups and well-established businesses alike. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Baylor University.