How to make a good cultural hire for your business

How to make a good cultural hire for your business

Though important in any workplace, cultural fit has added significance in your business. With limited spots on your team, an out-of-place employee can quickly impact morale and productivity. Finding people who truly believe in your company's mission and way of doing business can reduce turnover, lead to greater job satisfaction, and promote superior performance. Use these tips to make a good cultural hire for your business.

Define your company culture

What is your company culture? Does it have an entrepreneurial spirit? Does it promote flexibility? Does calmness under pressure define it? Ask yourself what traits you value most in current staff members and what qualities a newcomer should possess to mesh with your team's existing vibe. Consider the top three or four attributes a new hire needs to have. Once you understand what it takes to be a successful employee at your company, you can start looking for appropriate people to fill openings so you can make a good cultural hire.

Publicize your culture when hiring

You advertise the nuts-and-bolts skills essential for a given position, so why not also specify the cultural qualifications in job postings, social media ads, and your company website? All parties benefit when you provide a clear idea of what a successful candidate should expect, so offer these details in your hiring materials.

For example, is collaboration central to your small business? Highlight your open-office structure in the recruitment video, call for team players in your job ad, and post examples of staff members working together on your social media pages. People who prefer individual contributions will recognize their values differ from yours and decline to apply, saving you from having to weed them out.

"All parties benefit when you provide a clear idea of what a successful candidate should expect, so offer these details in your hiring materials."

Research candidates on social media

People may be professional at work but let loose on their social media accounts. You can learn much about how potential candidates react to different situations by seeing what they write (or who they talk to) online. Even private accounts tell you a lot, especially that the candidate isn't careless with their profile and content. It's easy to understand why, according to a recent study by The Harris Poll, 71% of hiring decision-makers agree screening candidates with social media is useful.

Not making too much of what you find in an online search is vital. Candidates may have posted content years ago, which may not reflect how they currently engage with the world or behave at work. For example, the candidate may have spent time as a DJ but traded in their late-night lifestyle to attend nursing school. Whatever the case, don't read too much into social media images, especially old ones.

Ask cultural interview questions

Job interviews can provide a wealth of information about cultural fit. To avoid simply receiving appropriate but generic answers (such as "I'm a team player"), ask candidates for opinions or to share actual examples. How does the person's response to "describe a work culture or environment in which you would be happy" match your workplace? Can the individual recount past experiences demonstrating values essential to your company? For example, did they go above and beyond for a customer or perform a task outside their job description?

Here are other examples of cultural questions from the human resources news service HRMorning:

  • What's your dream job?
  • Are you a leader or a follower?
  • How do you communicate with your colleagues and managers?
  • What appeals to you most about working here?
  • What did you like the most about working for your past employer? What did you like the least?
  • What's your ideal work schedule?
  • How do you form relationships with your colleagues and coworkers?
  • What motivates you at work?
  • What's your process for dealing with conflicts at work?
  • How would your former coworkers and managers describe you?
  • When have you been most satisfied in your career, and why?
  • Which core value of our company do you identify with the most? The least?

Train your team to discuss culture

Make sure everyone on your team involved in the hiring process knows how to discuss the company culture. With their firsthand knowledge of your small business, they can give applicants thoughtful answers about daily life. They can also provide honest feedback on how well an individual might fare.

Conduct a group interview, arrange shadowing for a day, or foot the bill for a casual lunch. If working remotely, set up one-on-ones to allow for more meaningful conversations with a few people the candidate would work alongside regularly to let them get to know the team better. If they recognize they're not a good fit, they can opt out before you get to the offer stage.

Don't let cultural fit be an afterthought; build an evaluation into your standard hiring procedure. By prioritizing a cultural hire, you can onboard new employees who align with your company's mission and work well with your existing team. In the long run, this type of hiring leads to increased productivity, greater job satisfaction, and a better bottom line for your business.

More tips on making a cultural hire:

Company culture can be tricky to define. Follow these tips to understand the workplace culture so you can explain it to potential employees.

Do you have several openings you need to fill quickly? Here's how you can scale cultural fit when hiring for multiple positions.

It's essential to make diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a top priority when considering cultural fit. Your DEI efforts can pay off in a big way.

Don't forget to consider how job applicants view your company culture. Candidates often place a high value on flexible work arrangements and schedules.

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