Written by Geoffrey Votta
Hiring people that will thrive in your culture is key to building engagement — and measurably better business results. How key? Fifty-three percent of HR professionals say new hires failed because the person’s attitude and personality did not match the role or company. Achieving the right cultural fit — the synergy between a candidate and a business — can be tough but always begins in the same place: getting a search off the ground effectively. Here’s how.
1. Identify your target
Hiring managers and recruiters need to start by developing a full understanding of their business and culture to target candidates with the right qualifications. It is important to consider the “hard factors” — the tangible facts and data — and then dig deeper to understand the “soft factors,” the intangible elements of your culture and the candidate fit.
We typically begin by reviewing hard data such as business demographics, from company size, organizational structure, projected growth, and stage in the business life cycle to whether the company is public or private. In a first step, to identify the “hard factors,” we gather intelligence such as annual reports, financials, organizational chart, strategic plans, and brand guides.
Once hiring managers have defined the role within context of the business, they should develop a target profile against which to identify a candidate with the right qualifications, from years of experience, industry expertise, and career track to responsibilities and achievements in past positions.
2. Go below the surface
To truly be successful and bolster the search for the right candidate, hiring managers and recruiters must also evaluate and measure the “soft factors.” This second step provides insight into how the candidate might succeed in the company’s culture.
Not giving enough consideration to cultural fit can hamper an organization’s effectiveness in its hiring practices
Mapping culture fit requires deeper insight into your culture and the candidate’s personality and temperament. To help clients develop an accurate and transparent perception of their culture, we insist on visiting their offices and facilities in person. We walk the halls, talk with the staff, and meet with key decision makers (a process we call “meeting the jury”) to help them formulate a definition of their culture. Hiring managers should do the same – you will be surprised how much you will learn about working for your company in the process.
We also utilize The McQuaig Institute’s suite of scientifically validated assessment tools, behavioral interviewing, and other techniques to discover the best candidates. Together these tools help create the ideal personality profile that we use as a benchmark for comparison against candidates and provide insight into a candidate’s behavior and mental agility that you would otherwise not have known until they were six months into the role.
3. Ask the right questions
When you have the key decision makers together, it is critical to build consensus by asking each person on the team what they are looking for in the hire.
A firm needs to be able to ask the right questions and identify key attributes about their unique culture. When working with our clients, our team dives in to evaluate aspects like:
- What is your company’s purpose?
- What values and practices are in place to guide your team’s attitudes and behaviors to achieve it?
- What’s the typical decision-making process? Is it collaborative, consensus, or autocratic?
- What is it like to work at your company? And, how would your employees respond to that question?
- Does the company follow a traditional 40-hour work week? Or is it more flexible? Do workers telecommute or is all work done on-site?
- Where is the office located and what’s the environment inside? Is it open and collaborative? Informal hangout spaces? Or separated offices and closed doors?
- How do people dress?
With a clearer understanding of your company’s culture, organizations can research and identify potential candidates with a sharper lens. This informed perspective can elevate the search to consider:
- In which organizations does great talent reside?
- What organizations match where we are in our development cycle or where we are transitioning to in our next stage of growth?
- What organizations have similar cultures?
- From the candidate vantage point, consider:
- What temperament and characteristics are we looking for in a candidate?
- Does the candidate flourish in a structured or entrepreneurial environment?
- What is the culture like at their most recent employers?
We have found that expanding the recruiting process to take these factors into account increases the likelihood of building engaged teams. By helping companies examine their culture and by meeting with the key decision makers, we’ve been successful in helping build consensus and establish who is the right candidate and for what reasons. Then, by adding that cultural definition to the research done to identify candidates and where they can be found, we’re able to narrow the focus to only candidates that look to be the right fit versus casting a wide net.
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