What can you do to reduce the chances of a bad hire? Hire for your culture. Look for the candidates with the most applicable skills and most relevant experience, yes, but, more importantly, look for the candidates who want to put their knowledge and talents at the service of your mission. Skills and experience matter only if the person who has them contributes to the excellence of your organization.Here are three strategies you can use to hire for your culture:
1. Explain your company values and expectations. The interview process isn’t just about the applicants; it’s also about you and your organization. When discussing the requirements of the job, make sure you tell applicants about your organization – where it has been and where it is going. Be up front and concrete about what your company values are, how your company follows them, and how you expect every employee to exemplify those values. Mention the behaviors and habits you want to see in an employee. Ask applicants why they might want to work in your specific culture, and press them for specifics.
2. Bring employees from various departments into the interview sessions. However well everyone at your company embraces the company culture, you’re not a monolith or merely a set of divided roles and responsibilities. Trite as it sounds, your organization is comprised of people – people with various backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives. Your employees have their own ways of participating in and contributing to the company culture. Take advantage of these differences by inviting employees from various departments to participate in the interviews. The more diverse your interviewers, the more likely you’ll be to spot a red flag before extending a job offer.
3. Ask about specific behaviors. When questioning candidates and their references, ask about their preferred way of doing things – not just what they do, but also how they do it. Have applicants name the values that matter most to them and what they did in their previous jobs to live those values. Ask about large long-term projects and small day-to-day operations. You can often tell a lot about an applicant’s character by their disposition toward the menial but necessary tasks of an organization.
You can no more afford to make assumptions about an applicant’s fit with your culture than you can about their skills, expertise, and experience. You expect evidence of an applicant’s qualities and accomplishments; require evidence of a cultural fit as well. Make your hiring decisions as evidence-based as possible.