5 Ways to Culture-Fit Job Candidates

Matching a job candidate to your working environment has become an essential part of the interview and selection process.

Recently, my recruiting team and I tried to help a major material handling systems integrator add a new staff member. This company had a very rigid requirement list for their ideal candidate. I spoke with them about surrendering some of their wish list in order to find a candidate who not only had some of the skill sets but would also be a cultural fit. However, our client insisted that their perfect candidate should possess ALL the technical skills they wanted and wouldn’t back down.

After conducting a search, we could find only one candidate who met their criteria and during the interview process, our client only asked questions pertaining to technical aspects and expertise—nothing about personality. The candidate was hired.

Several months into the job, we received a call informing us that this new hire was not meshing well and did not have the right attitude. After several unsuccessful attempts to integrate him into the company, they let him go.

My team and I began a search again but this time our client was open to more than just a skill set. They wanted a good personality fit as well. We found four candidates and eventually, our client made the right choice.

While a candidate’s skill sets and technical expertise are extremely important, hiring managers and HR professionals are starting to realize just how vital “culture-fitting” is in order to avoid a costly mismatch or misfit.

Each company in the Material Handling and Logistics arena has its own unique culture comprised of values, surroundings, management style, delegation of power and authority, decision making latitude, work/life balance, etc. Your company culture will help you to understand what type of candidate to pursue and what questions to ask during the interview process in order to establish if there’s a culture fit.

Here are five tips to help you discover if a candidate will fit in:

  1. Ask for specific examples of previous environments they have worked in and in which type of environment they performed the best. For example, if your candidate is highly skilled but performs best when “solo,” they won’t last long if your culture is team-oriented.
  2. Find out what keeps them coming back to work besides pay. This will give you some insight as to what motivates your candidate and if they would feel inspired working for your company.
  3. Invite your candidate to participate in group activities or interact with your employees prior to making an offer to test whether they demonstrate those values that are important to your company.
  4. Ask your candidate about the qualities that he/she feels are most important to the job. If they provide you with a different list of qualities than your position requires, it’s a red flag situation.
  5. Ask what they know about your company. A well prepared candidate should already know a few things about your company culture. Let them tell you why they would be a good fit.

Culture-fitting enables you to better determine which candidate is best suited for your company. Keep in mind that it’s no longer just a matter of “Can do” or “Will do” but “Will fit.”


Dan Charney is Managing Partner at Direct Recruiters, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio, a search firm for companies in Automated Packaging and Material Handling Systems. For more information, contact him at 440-248-3370 x110 or at [email protected].

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