Recruiting for cultural fit: how to and why it matters

6 mins

Ever hired someone for their amazing CV, extensive qualifications, and skills, only to find ...

Ever hired someone for their amazing CV, extensive qualifications, and skills, only to find they didn’t work out a few months down the line?

Sometimes, it’s because a candidate’s oversold themselves – it’s not uncommon to hear “I can” in an interview, only to discover “I can’t” at a later date! But a more likely reason? It’s that your candidate, despite having all the credentials to do their job well, wasn’t a great cultural fit for your business. To ensure a great cultural fit, it’s important to align an individual’s values, beliefs, and behaviours with those of your organisation.

As a CEO, recruitment, or HR professional, you know that hiring the right people is key to your company’s success. In fact, 94% of entrepreneurs and 88% of jobseekers say that a healthy culture at work is vital.

So, here’s our deep dive into how and why recruiting for cultural fit is essential for your business. 

Why does cultural fit matter?

Cultural fit’s a topic becoming increasingly important in today’s job market. It entails identifying potential new hires possessing attitudes and values that match up with those of the organisation - and who can seamlessly blend into the existing culture. As former Porsche CEO, Peter Schutz quite simply said, “Hire character. Train skill.”

This process sets an organisation up for success, by making sure it has the right people to foster a successful work environment and deliver great results. Ultimately, when employees share common goals and culture, they tend to be more engaged, productive, and committed.

When expanding your team, it’s important to find the best candidate for the job – not just from a technical or experience standpoint but from a cultural perspective too. A mismatch between an individual’s values and personal beliefs with those of their employer will create toxic, less productive environments with less collaboration and motivation. Plus, you’ll run the risk of them (and other colleagues) leaving sooner rather than later.

But there’s monetary value to hiring the right people too. Business News Daily describes the average cost of a bad hire as ‘exorbitant’ and can range from $17,000 to $240,000.

However, take cultural fit into account from the off, and you’re more likely to bring in people suited to your ideals and principles; individuals who are committed to helping to build lasting relationships with the rest of their team.


How to recruit for cultural fit

The key to building a team that’s aligned with your culture relies on you getting creative during the process. Here are our suggestions:


(1) Define your culture

Before you start recruiting, you need to define your organisation's culture. What are your values? What kind of behaviour do you expect from your employees? What makes your company unique? What does your business stand for? Ask existing employees for their input on these kinds of questions and once you have a clear understanding of your culture, it’ll be easier to identify candidates who share those values.


(2) Relate each position back to your mission statement

Determine ahead of time what kinds of behaviours your organisation encourages, and look for candidates whose previous experiences demonstrate similar values or principles.


(3) Ask behavioural interview questions

Traditional interview questions tend to focus on skills and experience. While these are important factors in hiring someone who can carry out their role, they don’t give a complete picture of a candidate’s fit.

Behavioural questions on the other hand ask candidates to describe specific situations they’ve faced in the past and how they’re handled them. Lay out your intentions for the business’ future and ask questions to assess a candidate’s growth mindset. This kind of approach will help you assess whether their values and behaviours align with yours.

For example, if teamwork’s vital in your culture, ask something like: “Tell me about a time you had to work closely with others to achieve a goal.” No-one’s the finished article: ensure you’re hiring people who are looking to develop and grow (with you)!


(4) Incorporate skills assessments into your recruitment process

Assessments can provide additional insights into a candidate’s personality traits and working style. For instance, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) measures preferences for extraversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. Other tests include C-Me colour profiling and Lecioni’s Widget team styles, all which may be options depending on your organisational goals.  While assessments shouldn’t be the sole basis for hiring decisions, they can be useful tools for identifying candidates with a great cultural fit for your firm.


(5) Invite diverse perspectives

Create an inclusive recruitment environment by inviting qualified candidates from different backgrounds including gender identity, age, race, orientation, or backgrounds related to social justice causes, etc. Also, make sure you involve diverse people and perspectives in the interview process. Invite leaders from other areas of the business if you can. They’ll be able to interview better against core values, as they’re unbiased from a skills and experience perspective. Diversity encourages innovation!


(6) Leverage feedback from current employees

Current employees understand the team dynamics better than anyone else, so use them as a source of data while evaluating potential new hires! Ask questions like: “Would this person work well with our existing team?”


(7) Have multiple interviews

Make sure that you chat with at least two members of staff before accepting someone - if one person thinks they're a great fit, but others don't agree, then there may be some red flags about this potential hire.


(8) Look beyond skills and experience

An obvious one given the subject of this blog, but keep this at the forefront when hiring. Skills and experience aren’t everything. Many technical skills can be taught, whereas cultural fit and behaviours often can’t. Always look at traits such as communication style, work ethic and attitude when evaluating candidates.


(9) Gain references

Always ask for references! You’ll get help with this through specialist recruiters like Apollo, but because we know our candidates, chances are we already have an insight from how people behave within the market.


(10) Build a strong recruiter relationship

A great partnership with your recruiter will help you find only candidates that are a great cultural fit for your business. We’ll take time to know your culture and goals, saving you both time and money. An impressive 86% of permanent candidates we placed in 2020 are still with the same company 2 or 3 years later. And that’s because we understand your objectives, goals, and importantly… your culture. We’ll understand whether a candidate, regardless of experience and qualifications, has the potential to stay with your organisation for the long-haul.

Recruiting for cultural fit can take a little time and effort, but it will pay off in the long run. As Richard Branson put it: “Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions, and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality.”

Employees who share your values and vision are more likely to thrive in their roles and stay with you for the long haul. Ultimately, hiring the right people for your organisation will cultivate strong working relationships that enable everyone involved to succeed. 

Do you want help in recruiting staff that will stay with you and help you succeed? At Apollo, cultural fit is always a top consideration, and we match candidates with companies based not only on skills but their behaviours and attitude too. Get in touch for support in identifying what makes your culture different, as well as help in finding candidates that are the perfect fit! 

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