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Why Leaders Should Be Hired for Talent AND Culture Fit

06/29/17 / by Patricia Guth

Patricia Guth

“Culture fit.” It’s a trendy new term with which most individuals may not be familiar unless they’re in the business of hiring for their own or someone else’s company. Many head-hunters, HR specialists, and others responsible for putting the right people in place say that it’s a key trait to identify when recruiting and/or looking to fill a particular position.

As a matter of fact, SHRM – the Society for Human Resource Management – says that, due to turnover, a poor culture fit can cost a company between 50% and 60% of the wrong candidate’s annual salary. That’s why those doing the hiring are paying more attention these days to whether or not a potential hire fits an organization’s so-called “culture.”

How does one define culture?

The culture of an organization is best described as the attitudes, behaviors, and core beliefs of that organization. It’s the personality of the company, so to speak, and defines the environment in which employees work.

For example, if your workplace is strong on collaboration and believes that collaborative working is a core value that must be maintained, then hiring someone who is more comfortable as a collaborator rather than an individual contributor might be a better fit.

Most would agree that a company’s culture has been pre-defined by those who founded it or lead it. The vision and values of that person or persons defines the culture and, while it may change at some point, it will likely still include a stamp from the person who set the culture in the first place.

How does one determine culture?

Because “culture” is such a buzz word in today’s business world, more and more HR departments are trying to figure out how to gauge their workplace’s culture and how to find new leaders that boast the right talents and are the right culture fit for their organization.

Generally, gauging a company’s culture involves asking some questions that delve into the company’s personality such as:

  • How are major decisions made?
  • Is employee input sought on a regular basis?
  • Is collaboration encouraged?
  • Are there visual signs of culture present? (Posters on the walls about mission statements, pictures of happy employees or satisfied customers, and employee-of-the-month program, etc.)
  • Does the company celebrate successes, etc.? How?
  • Are managers and/or administration approachable?

Asking questions like these and others can represent a good start to defining the culture of a particular organization. It’s not an easy task and will demand some time, but matching employees to the culture of a company can mean the difference between employees that stay and are successful and those who exit rather quickly.

How to Recruit Leaders for Culture Fit

Again, it takes questions to determine whether or not a talented leader candidate is also a good fit cultural-wise for the organization.

Ask the candidate why they want to work for your company. Question them as to their parameters for the “ideal” workplace. Inquire as to what “best practices” they bring to the table and how they could implement them in this workplace. Ask them about work situations where they felt they were a bad fit for the company’s culture and have them explain why.

It’s always a good idea to give the candidate an in-depth tour of the office or the area in which they’ll be working. Let he or she examine the culture of the workplace, observe how employees interact (or don’t interact), allow the candidate to attend meetings or hang around at lunchtime, and WATCH. Those in charge of the hiring can learn a lot in just a few hours of observation.

A good culture fit brings in employees that not only know their proverbial “stuff” but who can also help drive long-term growth for the company. Furthermore, managers that “fit” are most likely to stay, saving tons of money spent on recruiting and re-hiring.

Of course, diversity is still important. No company should hire candidates who are simply clones of those already in place. When searching for a person that fits the culture of the company, it’s certainly important to also look at any other factors one would normally consider when hiring. Hence, culture fit should not be the only determination for hiring but should, nonetheless, play a role in decisions.

Help in Determining Fit

A one-on-one coach who boasts human resource expertise can help HR personnel learn how to determine whether a candidate fits the culture of a particular organization. A few lessons with such a coach can aid HR in setting up questions, tests, and interviews that will determine whether or not candidates will mesh with those already in place and in finding those who can adhere to the values and goals of the organization.


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Topics: leadership

Patricia Guth

Written by Patricia Guth

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