Company culture is incredibly important, and also a delicate balance. How do you know when your candidate is a good fit not just for the role, but also for your culture? Let’s take a closer look. 

Importance of Cultural Fit

Culture goes beyond your mission, vision, and values, although those are important aspects of company culture. Business culture also includes the daily behaviors, communication styles, workplace ethics, and unwritten expectations that lead to happy, productive workplaces. Broadly speaking, culture is the “personality” of your company, and it matters. 

Making a good hire is more than simply ensuring that the candidate has the right skills and experience. A candidate with all the right talents may still not be a match for the culture, which can lead to:

  1. Interpersonal conflicts. When an employee is out-of-step with the workplace culture, it can lead to unnecessary conflict and misunderstanding. An employee may mistake a coworker’s informality for rudeness, creating feelings of frustration and resentment. 
  2. Low morale. An employee is likely to be unhappy in a culture that doesn’t fit their style. For example, a very results-oriented worker may complain about processes they feel are lengthy and restrictive. 
  3. Reduced productivity. A poor culture fit can affect the productivity of the whole team. For example, a workplace that is very flexible and creative may not suit an employee who prefers structure and order in their work, and keep their productivity out-of-step with their coworkers. 

It’s always critical to hire employees who believe in company values and want to further the corporate mission, but these cultural factors also play a huge role in retention and productivity. 

What to Look for when Recruiting for Culture

Recruiters and hiring personnel need to thoroughly understand their own company culture in order to evaluate whether a candidate is a good match. Here are some of the factors to consider about your company:

  • Formality vs informality. Are you a “suit and tie” company, or a “bermuda shorts” company? Is your organization flat, with a low hierarchical distance, or are employees expected to behave a different way with leaders, managers, and executives? Formality influences how employees work with each other and with management, how they dress, how they interact with clients or guests, and how they perceive the behavior and intentions of others.
  • Structure vs flexibility. Does this role have set hours, standardized productivity metrics, quotas, and other structures? Is daily work habitual and routine, or is daily work unstructured, with diverse and changing expectations? Some people require a workplace with a lot of structure and consistency in order to be happy and productive, while some welcome more flexibility and variety. 
  • Process vs results. Some people are goal-oriented, and feel that as long as they achieve their productivity targets, it doesn’t matter how they got there. Some people are process-oriented, and feel that it’s important that they follow all the proper steps, even if they don’t always achieve the desired result. Companies are the same way, and company cultures can be oriented more toward the processes, or more toward the outcomes.   

Remember that “cultural fit” is not a way to avoid hiring diversely: the goal is not to create uniformity, and hire people who all share the same personality and attributes so they get along well. The goal is to build stronger teams and a stronger company by leveraging a wide range of skills, attributes, and perspectives, but also creating shared expectations for how daily work is conducted in your company.   

How to Hire for Company Culture

When a candidate has the right skills and experience, it’s critical to also assess their fit in your company culture. There is no right-or-wrong work style or personality style; it’s a question of finding out what they need to be happy and successful. Here are some of the most important factors to consider during the hiring process:

  • Mission and vision. Does the candidate share the company mission and vision? Are they invested in working toward these objectives? Do they care about large, long-term company goals? 
  • Daily work style. A candidate who enjoys working at a scrappy startup where every day poses new challenges, may not enjoy a more structured work environment with the same tasks every day, and vice versa. A candidate who prefers a lot of independent decision-making and problem-solving may not be happy in a workplace with pre-determined processes and formal hierarchies. 
  • Teachability. More and more companies are finding that, if a candidate has the right values and the right attitude, many of the skills they may lack can be acquired later. When you are hiring for long-term results and building a company culture, it may be worth investing in a candidate who isn’t perfect right now, but has the potential to grow. This requires human intelligence and flexibility, since many HR software systems will automatically eliminate talented candidates who may be a great fit, even if they don’t have a great CV.

The most important factor in hiring for culture is a willingness to listen and learn from your staff and your candidates. For example, if the most skilled people are unhappy with their daily productivity goals and metrics, or the best candidates won’t accept the lack of flexibility in your company, or the top talent always goes to a competitor with a more compelling mission, then you may need to reconsider your company culture. Just because your organization has a specific personality doesn’t mean that it can’t, or shouldn’t, change. Sometimes change is necessary in order to create happy, productive, long-term employee relationships. 

To hire candidates that are the best fit for your culture as well as your role, contact grapefrute. Our years of experience and innovative processes help find the talent that can take you further, and build your culture from within.