It’s a common scenario: you’ve found the perfect candidate on paper.
They have all the skills necessary to succeed, but you can still hear alarm bells ringing. Why? Because, as every hiring team knows, cultural fit is key. It makes all the difference when it comes to staff retention as – regardless of ability – if a person is unable to work with your team, they’re unlikely to stay the course. A study by Leadership IQ shows that of the new hires that fail within 18 months, 89 per cent do so because they have difficulty integrating into the workplace. Here’s how you can avoid this:
Do their aspirations fit with yours?
Do you have a strong focus on customer service? Are you looking for someone who’s a good team player and fits well within a collaborative environment? These are the questions you should be asking yourself when you start to select candidates. Outline your visions, your values and your expectations at the start of interview process – even within the job description – in order to ensure you encourage like-minded candidates to apply. Recognise that different people thrive in different work situations. An applicant may be highly capable, but are you looking for someone who is motivated by team success or individual performance targets? Every business will be different, so it pays to know who the right person is for you.
Ask about culture within the interview
The interview is your golden opportunity to ask the questions you need, so make the most of this! Ask candidates about what they value most, what they enjoy about the work that they do, and how they deal with certain situations. Look for real-life examples, so that you can gain a detailed insight, and search for people who are able to give you a specific, considered, and well-thought-out response. Some interviewers even use personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as part of their tests. Top applicants, who demonstrate self-awareness, including the ability to pick out their own strengths and weaknesses, will shine in this part of the interview process.
Consider using interview activities
Scenario based interview tests are a great way to see how people fit within a team. So, why not ask candidates to plan an event as a group, put together a pitch for a new customer, or take part in a role play? While most applicants come well prepared for a structured interview, these types of activities can catch people off guard – which is exactly what you need in order see peoples’ true personality. By using this as part of your interview process, you’ll quickly see who is able to take charge, show leadership skills and motivate a team in order to achieve common goals.
Create opportunities to ‘meet the team’
What better way to test cultural fit than to get applicants to meet the team? Arranging these types of situations can be very telling, so look for people who are comfortable holding a conversation, as well as those who demonstrate enthusiasm by asking relevant questions. Whether it’s an office walk-round, a peer interview or an informal coffee with the candidate’s line manager, there are many ways in which to orchestrate these types of opportunities. Not only this, but you’ll find that your interview process benefits from getting a diverse range of people involved. Your team is bound to have many different opinions when it comes to hiring and taking these on board will help you when it comes to finding an applicant who will progress within your organisation.
Check their references
To find out what someone is really like in the office, it’s important to check their references. Speak to the people who have already worked with the applicant you’re about to hire and find out if, given the chance, they’d re-hire them. It’s every candidate’s prerogative to sell themselves as much as possible in an interview, but it’s also important to check if they’re glossing over key facts. References can be vital when it comes to this. So, take the time to ask your questions to ascertain what applicants are like individually and to see whether they’re willing to accept criticism, deal with challenges and adapt to changing situations.
About the author
Kate Allen is the MD of Allen Associates, one of Oxfordshire’s leading independent recruitment agencies, that specialises in Marketing, Finance, PA/Admin and HR roles. They also have an office in London, specialising in Marketing, HR and PA/Admin roles.