Companies work hard to hire the best candidates for the job. Many understand the value of a good “competence fit” for the job – having the right capabilities and technical abilities to do the job – but there’s also the question of culture fit in the workplace.
Why does this matter? While competence fit determines the level of skills, it is not a strong predictor of workplace success as much as culture fit. Culture fit is closely connected to organizational fit – and whether you’ll be able to retain the candidate and lead them toward career success for themselves and success for the organization.
Let’s discuss the meaning of culture fit and its importance in capturing and cultivating the right talent pool for your organization. Then we’ll talk about ways to measure culture fit and what indicators to look out for.
What is Culture Fit in the Workplace?
Company culture is most often described as a sum total of shared values, attitudes, beliefs, and practices that most describe a company – while culture fit is a certain level of conformity and the ability of groups and individuals to internalize these beliefs.
Company culture will be reflected in the organization’s style of communication and language and things like the level of formality and informality amongst colleagues and management.
For this reason, culture fit is highly influenced by company management – meaning the CEO or Managing Director, and top-level executives. It’s seen and felt in the way management organizes teams, to how they process both success and failure and how they ask their teams to move forward.
It is also evident in a company’s workstyle practices. Does it foster cooperation and teamwork or encourage competition (or both)? What kind of projects and activities does the company reward or recognize? And do members of the organization respond with renewed motivation, or experience a drop in morale?
Company culture can also be viewed as various traits of a company’s personality and how it champions attitudes and beliefs such as honesty, integrity, courage, and persistence. Individual resonance with these beliefs can create a strong personal connection amongst employees – because reflecting and acting on these values defines them as well, not just the company.
The Company’s Connection to Its Employees
Many studies show that hiring the most successful job candidates has a lot to do with engagement and connection to what the prospective company represents to them.
If a job candidate responds to a company’s culture in a personal way, they’re much more likely to connect with fellow employees – who share these beliefs – and motivate themselves better to perform.
In the long-term, if brand new employees see themselves fit within their team as well as within the company, you are much more likely to win these benefits:
- Stronger teamwork – Greater cooperation and collaboration amongst colleagues
- Greater productivity – Increased output, boosted by higher motivation
- Lower staff turnover rates – Stronger employee retention, because there is higher job satisfaction and commitment to the job
Nobody wants the opposite of these outcomes: toxic competition and infighting; frequent tardiness and poor quality work; and a brain drain of talent who come to work for six months, and then decide the company or the job weren’t a fit for them.
A good fit between personal values and company culture yields other benefits to the organization. A happy, well-placed employee is more highly engaged in company activities, attached to the workplace, and expresses a desire to grow.
This employee also becomes an advocate or “brand ambassador” for the company, which can help source better referrals for new hires, who replace old hires due to natural attrition, or fill new posts in times of company expansion.
How to Test for Cultural Fit During the Hiring Process
HR and recruitment specialists agree that pinpointing the right candidates begins with the hiring process. If you optimize this process, you’ll find a candidate who scores highly both on competence and cultural fit.
- Advertise your job postings referencing your company values and beliefs – and how these apply to the various job roles on offer.
- When filtering your initial shortlist of candidates, invite them to do some standardized assessments. This may include a test to review their technical skills, as well as a personality test.
- Explain your company values at the job interview and observe how they respond to the feel of the company. Try to read their facial expressions and non-verbal body language to read cues on their interest and enthusiasm.
- When conducting your interview, do a situational assessment. Ask about their previous job experiences, and how they handled and overcame specific challenges. Then ask questions that apply to your company values.
- Once the candidate passes the initial assessments, invite them to speak to someone on the team – or to meet them, even briefly, in person.
- Do a good background and reference check on the candidate. It’s good to know that everything you’ve been told is factual and accurate about the prospective candidate – and hear someone else’s opinion of their strengths and weaknesses.
It’s important not to focus just on their technical capabilities and everything that’s put on their resume. Observe their attitude and get some sense of their personality from third party sources. Testing for cultural fit requires both quantitative observation through questionnaire testing, as well as making careful situational judgment of the candidate.
For more information and inquiries about personality tests, don’t hesitate to contact Aptitude today.
Maintaining Cultural Fit After Hiring
Ensuring cultural fit does not end with the hiring process. It’ll take the employee’s hiring managers and supervisors careful observation in the first three to six months of work to validate if the hire was successful or not.
Employee onboarding within the first few weeks of hiring is probably the most crucial process – introducing the hiree to the company’s work ethics, preferred work practices, and encouraging the employee to connect with other members in the team. But it’s also equally important to do quick checks – personal one-on-ones, past the six-month mark, to see that the employee is finding their place and able to perform within the expectations of the job.
Cultural Fit Is About Knowing What You Stand For
In the end, hiring the candidate boils down to a company that knows itself well and knows what it wants of its team. The importance of cultural fit in an organization must never be underestimated. It can spell the difference between acquiring a disengaged, unmotivated employee vs. an employee who maximizes their technical expertise and thrives in the organization, even during stressful and challenging times.
It does not mean that you must hire for sameness. It just means that you understand how their belief system converges with yours – and how you both can leverage the candidate’s strengths to achieve their personal goals – as well as your company’s.
Hire the Right Candidates
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