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Culture Clash: Why You’re Having Trouble Recruiting for Cultural Fit

May 31, 2017

While some argue that hiring for cultural fit is secondary to hiring for proficiency or experience, cultural fit is equally important for long term success in any role.

Cultural fit is crucial because, even if an employee is highly productive, highly motivated, and highly engaged in work that they enjoy completing, they will probably still quit in under a year if they don’t feel a fit with your company’s culture.

Whether they feel a miss-fit with the people they work with or the prevailing attitudes within the company, these feelings will only grow over time and decrease their job satisfaction.

According to a Paychex survey, these are the most common reasons that people are leaving their jobs:

paychex survey quitting (2)

After being under-paid and over-worked, the reason that most people quit a job is because they feel like their employer doesn’t care about them.

For someone to truly enjoy a job, they need the feelings of community, purpose and security that come with a supportive, inclusive company culture. That being said, every company’s culture is unique to that company, and you should never try to change your culture unless it’s having negative impacts on employees, violating policy or legal standards for employment.

You should always portray your culture accurately to candidates, as anything else will hurt your ability to make good-fit hires for your company. Though this will cause some applicants to try and “fake it to make it,” it’s crucial to be up-front about your culture if you want to make great-fit hires.

Here are some of the most common reasons that you could be having trouble making hires who are a great cultural fit with your company or the team they are joining. 

You don’t Understand Your Company’s Culture

Maybe you’re new to your company, or maybe you’ve been so busy in your office that you haven’t seen someone from another department in months. In any case, you have become out-of-synch with the day-to-day working atmosphere of a department or team.

This is easily remedied with fact finding missions to the water-cooler, breakroom and/or nearby happy hour, to observe your company’s culture in action.

There’s Another Culture at Play When Management isn’t Looking

Another reason you may not be making good cultural fit hires for a team, is that you don’t know what the team dynamic is when you and other managers aren’t around.

To discover whether there is a counter-culture on a team or in a department, try having some 1 on 1 discussions with members of that team or department. Ask them what it’s like when none of the bosses are around and which qualities would make a hire feel right at home in that environment.

You Aren’t Properly Communicating your Company’s Culture

You may be having trouble hiring for fit, because you aren’t fully or accurately communicating your company’s culture to candidates.

For instance, if your company is very “businesslike,” with formal attire, behavior and communication being the norm, failing to communicate this can give you large numbers of miss-fit applicants. Similarly, if your culture isn’t very talkative and very few “atta-boys” are given, this can make a great technical candidate, a terrible overall hire. Many candidates will self-select themselves out of consideration if they don’t feel like they fit with the culture, so give them the information they need to make this choice.

You Aren’t Screening Properly for Company Culture

Screening for company culture is hard. Candidates may be trying to project qualities that are mentioned in descriptions of your company’s culture, making it crucial that you refrain from snap judgements.

Instead of accepting that someone is loyal, good humored, outgoing or another key cultural trait for your company, ask them to describe an experience that demonstrates this. This will halt the onslaught of character-actor candidates and reveal instances of the candidate’s character in action.

You aren’t Involving your Employees in the Hiring Process

Nobody can give you better information about the culture of a team/department/company like someone working in that team/department/company.

One of the most practical ways to test for cultural fit is to involve more employees in the screening process. By performing interviews, sitting in on interviews and meeting candidates, employees that will work with the hire can tell you who is a great choice and who will be a terrible fit. You can even observe fit in action by taking out a finalist candidate to lunch with the team they would be joining.

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Founder and CEO of SkillGigs A consummate innovator, Kashif is the brains behind SkillGigs. Kashif caught the entrepreneurial bug at age 10 while visiting his father’s manufacturing facility. He developed a love for programming after writing his first lines of code at age 11 and founded his first company, an IT consulting firm at age 25 which he bootstrapped to profitability within its first year. After exiting that venture, he started three additional companies, IQTech Pros, the world's largest full service IT integration network with over 30,000 members, NursesPro, a travel nurse staffing company servicing some of the largest hospital systems in the US and TAMH a holding and investment company which he took public in the UK. Beyond growth hacking his way to success, Kashif enjoys traveling the world and is an acclaimed songwriter.
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