Finding the best candidate for your company culture
This article was originally published at DerikBernhardt.com/b102
Question: What are you looking for in a candidate?
Answer: A person who can fill very specific roles, can think in a way that will benefit your customers and who holds the skills and a personality that will complement, but not replicate, your existing team.
This is what we call a cultural puzzle piece
This “Unicorn”, if you will, is that magical person that will fill all of those roles that either you are currently doing (and hate), you are outsourcing (and want to bring it “in-house”), or you need because your demand has just outgrown your current team.
Consider those requirements for a moment or two
A cultural fit is likely to look different across companies, teams, projects or even from position to position, and yet even further it could depend on which time of year or point in the project you’re currently recruiting a candidate onto your team. Hiring for a cultural fit requires a lot of consideration and foundation before the position is even made available. Metrics for evaluating a candidate must be created, to do this you want to consider how to “systematize” the task if you are currently doing it yourself, this requires you to document each step of the process in a way that you can outline it to a new employee as a “training module”, this allows you to have some control on the quality and methods in which your employees are performing their duties, if you already have a team in place you can evaluate and analyze their processes, this allows you to decide what is missing or what is required for a candidate to fit into the dynamic without causing friction or slowing down your processes, or if you’re truly lucky, you have a team who is happy to take on a candidate who is truly teachable and willing to learn their methods, which can almost guarantee your teams ability to function as a cohesive unit.
Now that you know how this new candidate will fit into the puzzle that is your company culture
It’s time to create the job outline and description and post it. While you are preparing to receive resume’s you should also be preparing for the interviewing process, Create a checklist that fits the criteria you set up while analyzing the role you are filling, this should be something you (and your team) feel comfortable with, ensuring your decisions are founded on the information gathered from the interviewing process instead of the “feelings” created by a gut reaction. One way to gauge for a cultural and value fit of a candidate is to clearly outline your company, create a clear description of its mission, its culture, the roles to be filled, and what you (and/or your team) believe to be the traits required to grow and succeed as a part of your team. Be clear about your culture at the beginning of the interview will help the candidate decide if they are a good fit for the company even before you get to make that decision, this opt-out reaction is something Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is known for with his anti-pitch for job candidates.
Once you have analyzed the process
Ensure you know what skills and mindset you desire out of a candidate, it’s time for you to create questions from that knowledge, these questions act as a guideline for you to judge candidates answers.
A good place to start is to ask the candidate about the culture at their previous employer, you could ask something like “How was the culture at your last company?”, “If you could a piece of that culture from your previous company and bring it with you here what would it be?”, “If you could have changed something about it what would that change look like?”, “What did you find difficult to adjust to at first?”
Below are the primary ways a candidate will respond, keep an eye out for each of these because they will help you decide if this person is going to match up with your view of your company’s culture, I have listed these from warning signs to desired responses:
Can’t describe a culture or didn’t notice one, or just says “good” and “bad” statements.
Solid likes and/or dislikes that don’t match up with your company culture.
Describes their old cultural likes and dislikes that match up with your company culture.
Description of their previous company, their likes and dislikes match up with your company, and their concrete examples are descriptions of how they dealt with adjusting to a new culture.
BONUS: A willingness to adapt to company culture and is already considering ways in which they can contribute.
Include informational questions targeting whether a candidate’s values and personality will fit in as well
If you’re looking to fill a position requiring a high level of detail, you may want to ask the candidate about a time that they were unable to get the project correct the first time and had to restart. A truly detail oriented person might have several stories about this situation, where a messier, less detail-oriented person is more likely to say things like “I usually get it right the first time.” or just not be able to answer the question.
After the interview process
Qualify each candidate, based on their alignment with your vision of your company culture, be sure to make notations of areas where they had obvious strengths and weaknesses, this will help you decide who to reach out and offer a position to. Don’t stop evaluating a candidate’s cultural fit after the hiring process, be sure to go back and re-evaluate at three and six months and then again on their one-year anniversary. This data will allow you to adjust your metrics and refine your hiring campaign so that you can always hire the best for each position you fill.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
I would love to hear from you about your upcoming hiring campaign.