Best approach for culture-based recruitment

If you want to support a strong company culture, it's logical to start with recruiting and selecting applicants who will share the organization's beliefs and thrive in that culture. But what hiring practices best ensure cultural fit? And how to avoid the biggest drawback?

What are practical steps to hire for values?

1. Translate values into behaviours
You need to understand the cultural DNA of your organization. Describe your company's values and behaviours that form the core of your culture. Sometimes it is even valuable to define specific values-based behaviours for a given role or group.

2. Develop interview questions for each of those values and behaviours
Draft questions that ask the applicant to give specific examples of past behaviour you can link to your core values. For example, if your organization values initiative and proactive team behaviour, you can ask "Can you give me an example of when you saw an issue outside of your direct scope that affected team performance and you stepped in to address it?".

3. Design the interview process
Consider conducting the skills and values part of an interview by different interviewers or at a different time. This way you are sure the values part will get the separate attention it deserves. And be sure not to start talking about company culture yourself. First, listen to what they have to say about their experiences and beliefs. This tactic will reveal more candid responses to help determine whether they are a fit for the organization. Specially to gauge the core values and beliefs, it way be worthwhile to involve two or even three interviewers. Different people will see and hear different things. These varied perspectives give a clearer understanding of the person being considered for hire.

4. Use best practices during the interview
Use the STAR acronym to collect all relevant information: situation, task, action and result. Also ask for the learning they derived from it. Ask for the impression a candidate makes with all people they interacted with. As an example, look at the 'nice guy test' as explained by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. At Zappos the recruiter asks the shuttle driver who drive in the candidate to their offices how he or she was treated. Abd listen for values alignment in the questions candidates ask. Try to really notice the kind of questions that they're asking and think about the values that underly them.

5. Decide how strict you are going to be
Every decision to hire is based on an assessment of a mix of job requirements. Cognitive ability, personality, skills, attitude and cultural fit. In a context where there is a pressing need to fill a position, you should agree beforehand what importance you attach to the perceived cultural fit. My advice would be to do yourself and the candidate the favour to be rather strict on cultural fit.

The biggest downside of hiring for cultural fit is that you limit diversity.

It is human for recruiters to - at least unconsciously - select those most like themselves. Take for instance introverted versus extraverted personality.
Today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We're told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extraverts. - Susan Cain
But if you have a very outgoing company culture, does that imply that someone who isn't very extraverted will feel not happy in your company? After all, you don't want only perfect matches that risk turning into too-cozy cliques in the workplace.

So, in the end, what should you do?

Think about how candidates might fit into your company culture, but also how they can add to it. And to what extend they proved capable to adapt to a new culture while staying true to themselves.

Koen Schreurs
Helping HR & Management to boost company culture & engagement








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HR News: Best approach for culture-based recruitment
Best approach for culture-based recruitment
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