How Do I Hire for Cultural Fit?

It may appear that the perfect candidate is the one with the Ivy League resume and jaw-dropping credentials. But there’s another factor that can make or break a new employee’s staying power, performance and contribution to your organization.

It’s called corporate culture, and whether yours is a small shop or a global conglomerate, it counts big time.

As noted by Nancy Rothbard, associate professor of management at The Wharton School, “cultural fit is incredibly important on a candidate’s abilities to use his skills. You have a positive effect through skills, but culture completely cancels that out.”

Your Company’s Brand

Your culture is at the heart of your company’s brand. It encompasses the work environment, the core values and principles that drive organizational direction, and the attitudes and mindsets that create a sense of belonging for employees.

Culture drives:

  • Retention: If employees feel “at home” working for a company, the result is a positive attitude, high morale and a sense of long-term loyalty. Turnover decreases, and quality and customer service grow.
  • Reputation: Companies known for a healthy culture where employees are valued and appreciated earn a positive image in the career marketplace.

So when you recruit a new team member, you don’t just hire for the job. You hire for the organization and its successful future.

Use these tips to help cement a cultural match:

Assess Your Current Culture

  • Seek input from your existing workforce. Involve them in defining your company’s core values and other cultural parameters. In addition to strengthening your hiring process, this builds their morale and sense of ownership.
  • Realize and acknowledge the factors that define your culture. Is work done independently or collaboratively? Are decisions consensus-driven or made authoritatively? What’s the norm regarding flexibility and hours worked, dress code and fraternization and socializing with coworkers?

Define Your Expectations

  • Culture goes well beyond a job description, but it’s a good place to start. Provide as much culture-related information as possible, so candidates can screen themselves out if the details don’t fit their lifestyle. For instance, a job seeker who thrives in a team environment wouldn’t likely pursue a position that requires a lot of independent work.

Get an Accurate Candidate Picture

  • Maximize interactions during the interview process. Take a 360-degree approach. Have candidates interview not only with the person they’d be reporting to, but also with their potential coworkers and persons who would report to them. Assess feedback afterwards.
  • Do individual values align with corporate values? Ask the candidate about their ideal work environment and what type of learner and worker they are.
  • A cultural fit can trump qualifications, so get to know prospective hires. In addition to skills and experience-related questions, ask candidates about their personal interests and what they like to do for fun.
  • Take the airport test. Consider how you – and the employee’s team – would feel being stranded with this person for hours in an airport. It’s a good way to gauge the long-term picture of a person in your company work environment (or not!)

Making the right cultural fit requires insight into your corporate culture and keen observation of a candidate’s personality and work style.

If you are looking for recruiting firms in Syracuse, NY, to help you find the right fit for both skills and culture, contact CPS and Professionals Incorporated today at (315) 457-2500 or



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