Hiring for cultural fit is not a ‘nice-to-have’ anymore – it’s the main criteria our recruitment consultants are judged on. After all, getting it right is proven to improve employee engagement, motivation and increase productivity by 36%. But it can be fraught with bias and kill diversity – killing profits that new ideas and perspectives bring.
I recently hosted a webinar on interviewing candidates for cultural fit. My advice draws on my CIPD Diploma in Learning & Development, previous experience of interviewing 2000+ candidates applying for cultural exchange programmes and what the latest research shows is working now.
Here’s a summary of the webinar: from culture ‘fit’ v cultural ‘add’ and common interview biases to the top interview questions and tools.
What is cultural fit? Think culture ‘add’
Even if you think you don’t have a company culture, you do. It’s the purposes and values that everyone shares from department to department – even if it’s not labelled.
Hiring for cultural fit is important. However, many interviewers base cultural fit decisions on their ‘gut feeling’, which often means hiring someone they like. However, if you hire someone who shares the same values but adds to the culture, you can create diverse teams. This brings new perspectives and fresh thinking – and better financial performance.
Consider your team: Are there any weaknesses that someone else could complement? You can use personality tests to help determine personality strengths and weaknesses too (more on that below).
The 7 interview biases to watch out for
Head to our previous blog for more information on these biases and how to tackle them: The 7 deadly cultural fit interview biases to leave at the door
Personality tests: when and how to perform them
There is a lot of debate around personality tests. I believe they can be a fantastic tool that offers a holistic view of the candidate, as people are so much more than their CVs.
There are many to choose from – from Myers Briggs to Thomas International and the IBM tool.
The key thing to remember is that it’s just a tool. Its success will come down to how you use the data. Does anyone have the skills in-house to interpret it? If not, you may risk dismissing a candidate on a ‘weakness’ that isn’t a weakness for that role.
You should also be aware that the test will simply provide a quick-shot view of how that candidate feels about themselves at that moment in time – it may change in a few months or a year. It should therefore be used as a good conversation starter but I would never use it as a filtering-out tool.
Also, consider the characteristics and traits that are important for this role. For example, if you were hiring a Health and Safety Officer, you would want someone who is compliant, follows rules and upholds authority. However, if hiring a graphic designer you would probably want someone who challenges authority and is a lot more creative.
Finally, consider how you will weigh the results of the tests as part of the overall interview process when assessing cultural fit.
Video interviewing is another great way of assessing cultural fit early on. It’s something that we offer to our clients that our clients and the candidates we interview love. There is so much more to a candidate than their CV. Video interviewing means you can get a real feel for what a candidate is like and how they interact.
Again, be aware of biases and how you will ensure a fair recruitment process. Also, consider when in the interviewing process it’s best to implement this.
My top cultural fit interview questions
In the webinar, I discussed my top eight interview questions – including why they are effective and what to look out for. Below you’ll find five of them, which were discussed in more detail in 5 revealing cultural fit questions used by those in the know:
- When you work with a team, describe the role that you are most likely to play on the team.
- What’s one thing you like about your current (or prior) job that you’d want here as well?
- What attributes do you look for in a company when applying for a position?
- What are your personal values?
- What are the characteristics exhibited by the best manager/boss you have ever had?
To watch the webinar replay in full and access the accompanying slides, head here: Expert advice on interviewing candidates for cultural fit (that will add diverse ideas and perspectives to improve your bottom line)