How to Hire Employees for a Cultural “Fit”

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at SilkRoad, a leading global provider of cloud-based talent management solutions. SilkRoad’s new Life Suite platform gives users a tablet-friendly experience. Learn more here about the update. Enjoy the post!) 

It could be said that when it’s time to hire an employee, skills and experience are important but cultural fit matters more. So what exactly is cultural fit? It’s defined as when a candidate “fits” or aligns with your organizational culture. I know, it sounds like common sense. But think about how many times we get it wrong. Not just companies, but employees too. We believe there’s a fit, but it’s really not.

The concept of cultural fit is important. We want to know that an employee’s beliefs and values match with the company. In thinking back on my own career, I found that, as I moved up the corporate ladder, my job interviews were less about “Can you interview? or Do you know how to conduct training?” and more to determine if I “fit” with the senior management team and the organizational culture.

But that conversation takes place during the interview. The real question is, can we create a way to determine cultural fit prior to the interview? This would allow job seekers to see our company culture and decide if they are a good “fit” before applying. The answer is yes, we can.

It starts with the company’s mission, vision and values (MVV). Specifically, an authentic mission, vision and values. Not one that looks good on the conference room wall and business cards but doesn’t really mean anything on a daily basis.

Use the MVV to create your organizational culture. Company values should be apparent in the actual way the business runs. How meetings are held, decisions are made, and problems are solved.

Culture drives your employment brand strategy. The company has a consumer brand strategy. It also needs an employment strategy. What does the organization want candidates to think about them as an employer?

Align brand strategy with the candidate experience. This is where the results of the company’s employment brand are felt – in the candidate experience. The brand strategy is what the organization is selling; the candidate experience is what people think their buying. They need to match.

This results in achieving cultural “fit” – job seekers can peek behind the curtain and see the company. They get a realistic job preview. They decide if they are a good fit before they apply. It positions the company to ask a candidate, “Tell me why you feel you’re a good fit for our organization.” If the company has effectively done their part in sharing an authentic view of the workplace, then candidates should be able to answer the question.

So for any organization that values cultural fit (and really, who doesn’t?), it’s in everyone’s best interest to build a great corporate culture, employment brand strategy, and candidate experience. I know…that’s easier said than done. Because all of these components are unique to your organization. But you can draw on the creativity, best practices, and lessons learned of others.

SilkRoad has created a new ebook featuring the career portals and onboarding portals of their customers. I had the opportunity to work with them on this project. There are a lot of companies that can inspire you – in a variety of industries and sizes. You can download the book here.

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Also, join me and Mimi Jerkan, innovative solutions manager at SilkRoad, on Thursday, October 23 for a webinar on “What Makes a Killer Portal?”. Registration details can be found here. We’ll be sharing what it takes to create that authentic portal so candidates can decide if they’re the culture fit for your organization.