• pexels-photo-317385-1-794638-edited.jpg

Conversations, thoughts, and insights

6 Ways to Tell if a Candidate is a Good Culture Fit

By Team PF Jul 02, 2018

For today’s recruiters and hiring managers, finding a candidate that is a good cultural fit is as important if not more important than finding a candidate with the right skill set or experience—especially in the tech industry where employees are expected to wear a lot of hats, learn new roles quickly and be fairly self-sufficient. For instance, you can teach someone JIRA, but you can’t teach them to love your operation or change their personality to better mesh with your team. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, cultural fit is one of the top indicators as to whether or not an employee stays with your company long-term. Employees who mesh well with their co-workers, supervisor and company values are more satisfied at work and more likely to stick around. Their alignment with other employees will also result in greater productivity.

Though it’s easy to scan a resume to determine if a candidate has the necessary skills for a given role, determining whether or not she’ll be a culture fit is a little more challenging. Lucky for you, the team at PeopleFoundry has interviewed hundreds of candidates and future company leaders and are experts at identifying a good culture fit. Here are six ways to determine how well a candidate will mesh with your team.  

Define Your Culture

trading-technologies-tn_0The first step to determining culture fit is to define your company culture, values and mission. If a candidate isn’t inspired by the mission of your company, it’s unlikely she’ll go the extra mile on day-to-day projects. And if her working style clashes with the office environment, she’ll likely feel frustrated by her inability to succeed in the workplace.

When it comes to defining culture, you should look at companywide issues like work-life balance, the transparency of leadership, socialization outside of work and general office politics, as well as the working styles of teams and individuals. Does your team tend to work collaboratively or does each person focus on their job function in a more isolated setting? Do workers tend to manage themselves or are they expected to frequently report to and follow specific instructions of their supervisor? Are mid-level employees expected to regularly meet with or present to the CEO or are is there a layered hierarchical structure that keeps them from getting face time with the CEO? While there’s no right or wrong answer to any of these questions, it’s important that you answer them definitively, and communicate the answers to candidates to see if your workplace aligns with their working style.

If you’re struggling to answer these questions, perhaps send a survey to non-management employees to help gauge their interpretation of the culture. Ask how they would describe the culture. What core values do you believe management values? Does what management say differ from what they do? Getting a sense of how employees view your culture not only helps you to further define or finesse your company culture, but it gives you a better understanding of how candidates may perceive your company. 

Make Your Mission More Visible

Once you’ve crafted a mission statement and values and analyzed your company culture, make sure it’s visible to potential candidates. The first step in finding the perfect candidate is to attract people that are interested in your mission and culture. Make sure your mission and culture are stated or properly conveyed on your website, social channels and any review or job posting sites like Glassdoor. Those sites are also a great place to promote any philanthropic work you do or employee perks you offer like flexible schedules or summer hours.

Next, encourage your employees to write honest Glassdoor reviews and share company updates on social. A satisfied employee is going to be a great selling point for joining your company. You may even want to add employee bio to your website to add some personality.

Essentially, you need to ask, if potential candidates do a Google search for my company, what will they find? What does the company say about itself and what do your employees say about your company?

Ask the Right Questions

As you’re preparing to interview candidates, rank the core values you’d like to see in the ideal candidate. Then create interview questions to help measure each core value. This helps you determine if a candidate will mesh with your team and make sure the goals of your company are aligned with the goals of your future employee. Below are a few sample questions that will help you determine if a candidate is a good culture fit. 

  • 3068875-poster-p-1-exactly-what-not-to-say-when-negotiating-your-salaryWhat is your ideal work environment?
  • Tell me about the best boss you’ve ever had.
  • What sort of management style will compel you to go the extra mile?
  • What was the best thing about your last job?
  • How would your co-workers describe you?
  • Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
  • What kind of work environment would make you unhappy?
  • What were the most positive cultural elements at your last job?
  • What are your expectations of your management team?

Note Body Language Attitude and Tone

In addition to listening to the candidate’s answers to your questions, take note of her body language and attitude. Her physical reactions to your questions may cue you into what she likes or dislikes, especially when you’re describing the current culture. You’ll also likely notice a candidate “light up” when talking about a project or work she’s passionate about.

Candidates have likely rehearsed answers to questions they anticipated hearing. Paying attention to body language and tone helps you separate genuine answers from those they know you want to hear. Stilted language should cue you in to the rehearsed answers and a more relaxed tone likely means they’re thinking through an answer on the spot.

Include Multiple Team Members in Interview

It’s essential to have an HR representative and hiring manager interview your candidate, but you should also include potential future team members that will work closely with the new hire. While they may not be able to properly asses a candidate’s ability to take on the role from a skill set perspective, they should be able to gauge the candidate’s culture fit.

Not only can your current employees find someone they’ll want to work with, but the candidate can determine how well she’ll mesh well with the existing team

Schedule an Outing

During the interview, a candidate is likely feeling nervous and carefully watching what they say. To get a better sense of their true personality, invite your top candidates out of a more casual outing with their potential future team. Whether it’s lunch, happy hour or a team-building activity, you’ll get a better sense of how she jives with the team and what she’ll be like at the office. 

If this all seems too overwhelming and are still struggling to identify culture fit, contact the team at PeopleFoundry to help you find the perfect candidate.