Hiring for Cultural Fit: How to Assess the Candidate’s Match for Your Company Culture

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Company Culture and Hiring

Hiring for cultural fit is a complex undertaking, and far more than simply filling a job role. It’s about finding the person who will fit in with others and, equally importantly, with how and why your company does what it does. It’s crucial if you want to build a high-performing, productive, and happy team. 

Let’s navigate the maze of hiring for cultural fit, uncovering the steps and strategies to do so successfully.

Why Hiring for Cultural Fit Is Essential

When an employee feels like they belong, they are more likely to be engaged with their work and their team. Engaged employees are more highly motivated. They work better in their teams, are more open about sharing their ideas, and collaborate more effectively toward collective goals. They are also less likely to quit. All of this adds up to some important considerations, financially and logistically, including:

  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that it costs up to 200% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them. 
  • According to Gallup, companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable than those without it.
  • Gallup also found that highly engaged teams benefit from a 41% decrease in absenteeism and 59% reduction in turnover.

The short and tall of it is that by only hiring for skills to do the job, you risk long-term goals for short-term gain. Hiring candidates who fit in with your company culture will help you benefit from a more resilient and adaptable workforce that is united in the effort to attain your business goals.

Understanding Your Company Culture: The Pre-Requisite

First things first – you need to understand your existing culture. A culture audit will identify what works well and what you need to adjust, as you examine policies and behavioral norms that exist. You can do this through employee interviews and surveys.

Now you’ve got a handle on the cultural landscape that should guide hiring, internal promotions, project assignments, and more. Follow this, and you’ll develop a framework to which current and future employees can align.

Your culture will also give you a guide as to what language to use internally and externally – for internal communications, performance evaluations, external promotions, and, crucially, job descriptions. Using language that reflects your company culture in job descriptions will help unsuitable candidates to self-vet themselves from application, and ensure that only the best-fit candidates apply.

Crafting the Right Interview Questions: Beyond Skills and Experience

The interview questions you ask are critical to finding the ideal match for your team. These help you to move beyond the resume and tap into what really matters.

Behavioral questions will help to get a snapshot of a candidate’s soft skills, such as problem solving and teamwork. Ask about challenges that they may face in their role to hear how they would approach such challenges. They get an understanding about the complexities of the role they are applying for, and you learn about how they would navigate your team’s culture.

You should also probe a candidate about their values and ethics. By discussing issues such as corporate governance and social responsibility, you’ll learn about what makes a candidate tick – and you’ll also make it plain that these things matter to you.

Assessing Cultural Fit Through Tests and Assessments

Interviews are only one way to assess cultural fit. You can also employ personality tests, skills-based challenges, and group activities:

  • Personality tests (such as Myers-Briggs or DISC) can help to identify personality traits such as attention to detail, introvert vs extrovert nature, and more. This will help you understand how the candidate may fit into your team.
  • Skills-based challenges can help you assess a candidate’s ability to do the job required, and can also help you to see how they approach their work – an important clue as to how they will fit in with your company culture.
  • Group activities allow you to watch how a candidate integrates with others. Are they a team-player? Do they take the lead? Are they able to communicate effectively? You’ll gain valuable insights into a candidate’s interpersonal skills and cultural compatibility.

The Role of Social Media and Online Presence: Stalking or Researching?

While we recommend caution when searching a candidate’s social media to gain greater insight into their character, it can help you make more informed decisions. You will need to act ethically when ‘interrogating’ a candidate’s digital footprint.

LinkedIn can give clues as to how well connected a candidate is within your industry, and provide information about their experience and skills. Facebook, Instagram, and ‘X’ (Twitter) may need to be treated a little less seriously. Sure, you may come across posts or comments that might otherwise be dealbreakers, but you should remember that for many people personal and professional lives don’t fully integrate – context is king.

After the Interview: Gathering Team Feedback

When assessing a potential new recruit for cultural fit, don’t rely on only the hiring manager’s assessment. Every person who has interacted with the candidate should be consulted ─ including the receptionist who welcomed the candidate to the interview. All will have their opinion to give, and by soliciting all this feedback, you’ll gain a more rounded impression of the candidate.

As you gather feedback, you’ll need to recognize and account for biases – structured interview processes will help you here.

A tip here: despite all the positive feedback, if something feels ‘off’ about a candidate, it’s usually best to trust your gut instinct.

Building a Cohesive Workforce One Hire at a Time

In this article we’ve discussed why hiring for cultural fit is non-negotiable, and tactics and strategies to help you do so. A good hire will enrich your company and your culture. Maintaining a solid company culture doesn’t stop with hiring, but it does start there. each hiring decision is a long-term investment, not a short-term fix.

Where do you start? Contact Lakeshore Talent, and tap into our experience to ensure all your hires are great cultural fits.