How to Assess Cultural Fit When Interviewing Job Candidates

Oct 10, 2017

Candidate Culture Fit

Many companies believe they cannot accurately assess whether a job candidate is a good cultural fit before hiring.

Working under this assumption, companies use subjective methods to make educated guesses about cultural fit when interviewing candidates. Some examples include social media profiles, the college or university they attended, their volunteer history, an "eye test" during the job interview, or even the employee who referred the candidate.

Unfortunately, this creates turnover risk and has potential to hurt productivity and morale among your teams.

Companies need to understand that you can objectively measure whether a candidate will be a good cultural fit in your company. You should also understand the benefits of acting on this information to ensure you hire the best fit.

3 Steps to Assess Cultural Fit When Interviewing Candidates

Companies should measure cultural fit in their job candidates by following these important three steps.

Step 1: Measure the overall culture of your company and the sub-culture of the candidate's potential team.

Your company should routinely measure the overall culture and sub-cultures based on emotional intelligence competencies.

This is important because studies show that employees typically leave their managers, not their job. Therefore, identifying the sub-culture within a team and how the manager impacts the sub-culture is critical to ensure that a candidate will fit their work environment.

This type of culture analysis of teams such as IT, sales, customer service, and executive leadership will ensure that you have measurable information to match up candidates with the unique sub-cultures that exist in your company.

Step 2: Measure the emotional intelligence competencies of top performers in the related job or role.

By measuring the emotional intelligence competencies of top performers already in your company, you establish the ideal persona in each role.

Then, when making a hiring decision, you can compare the results of each candidate to the results of the top performers. This comparison will give you a reliable idea of whether your candidate is a good cultural fit for their designated role.

Step 3: Measure the emotional intelligence competencies of each candidate you are hiring for.

A resume, a few referrals, and an interview are not enough to accurately assess whether a candidate will be a good cultural fit in your company.

Furthermore, a recent university study indicated that 25 percent of interviewers make a decision about a candidate's suitability within the first five minutes of a standard interview. Without consulting measurable information about the candidate's thinking patterns, that creates risk of either hiring the wrong candidate or passing on a candidate who would actually be a good fit in your company.

Companies need to have candidates take an assessment that measures their emotional intelligence along with conducting a proper behavioral interview. This ensures that you have measurable information to compare the candidate to the culture analysis of your company and results of top performers.

After following these three steps, you have the information you need to make an informed decision about whether a candidate is a good cultural fit in your organization.

What Happens When You Follow These Steps?

The benefits of identifying cultural fit in candidates before hiring include the following:

  • Less unwanted turnover
  • Increased employee engagement and satisfaction
  • More productivity from the candidate and overall team
  • Enhanced profits and increased market share

For example, ZERORISK HR studied a company that realized tremendous revenue growth after they shifted their approach to hiring for a key sales executive role.

What led to this shift was the previous executive was a complete mismatch for their overall company culture and the sub-culture of their team. After this executive left, the company decided to establish a cultural benchmark for the role and make the next hiring decision based on measurable information.

The result was hiring a new sales executive who exceeded the company's annual sales goal in just eight months. Comparatively, the previous executive never hit the annual sales goal. This represented a complete turnaround in a department that directly drives overall revenue and bottom line performance for the entire company.

An Example of Not Following the Assessment

ZERORISK HR has also studied companies that do not follow the assessment and recommendations when interviewing job candidates.

For example, a company was hiring for an important accounting position and they had their candidates complete an assessment for the role. However, the company went against the cultural benchmark they established prior to hiring.

The assessment revealed that the person they hired was not only was a mismatch for the sub-culture of their team but also the overall company culture. Specifically, the new hire's emotional intelligence competencies were out of alignment with the thinking patterns of the ideal persona in the accounting role.

Despite the warning signs, the company hired the individual based on the persuasion of a current employee who referred this individual. This resulted in:

  • Complete disruption to the current team
  • Added stress to the manager who hired the candidate
  • Wasted time and energy from the HR department
  • Involvement from the president of the company to prevent the team from imploding

There is considerable risk to hiring a candidate who does not fit the culture of your company or their team. That is why it is vital to assess cultural fit when interviewing candidates so that you can make an informed hiring decision.

To make more informed hiring decisions, consider the ZERORISK Hiring System to establish cultural benchmarks in your company, measure the emotional intelligence of your candidates, and manage your current talent. This will better position your company to achieve revenue goals and reduce the risk of costly turnover.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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