Determine candidate cultural fit

ESTIMATED READING TIME – 3:00

Learning goals for this activity

– Understand why determining candidate cultural fit is important to talent optimization.
– Be able to list and describe the two key elements associated with determining candidate cultural fit.
– Describe a recommended step that will help a hiring team evaluate culture.
– Explain how to create an objective method for evaluating a candidate’s fit to your culture.
– Describe the advantages of setting candidate expectations about your culture in the interview.

Determining candidate cultural fit includes communicating your organizational culture to candidates during the selection process and evaluating candidates based on cultural fit.

Why determining candidate cultural fit is important to talent optimization

One of the key things to evaluate when considering whether to add a new person to your organization is the impact on your company culture. World class companies have designed the culture they need to execute their business strategy. This is why you need to determine if an incoming candidate will fit within your already excellent culture and/or add something unique that helps grow your culture in the direction your business is headed. You can’t just go with your gut feeling—there must be a purposeful and explicit evaluation of the candidate’s fit to the organizational culture.

Key elements of this activity include:

  1. Ensure candidate fit with the organization.
  2. Set candidate expectations regarding culture.

1. Ensure candidate fit with the organization.

Many organizations claim they evaluate candidates for cultural fit, but usually this is done subjectively and informally. This happens when your cultural norms aren’t adequately documented and communicated.

You already designed and documented your organizational culture. Now you can use that information to evaluate candidates for cultural fit.

Arm every member of the interview team with a simple rubric (based on your documented culture of values, principles, and rewarded behaviors) to evaluate each candidate during the onsite interview.

For example, if your documented culture is composed of four primary values or principles, interviewers should ask specific questions to determine how well the candidate embodies each one—then give them a score from 1-5.

To take it one step further, you can add a person on the interview team whose sole purpose is to evaluate culture fit at the deepest level. This would include having the culture interviewer provide specific examples supporting the numeric scores for each of the four primary values. These scores should be considered alongside the other scores on the interview team’s scorecard to drive the final hiring decision.

2. Set candidate expectations regarding culture.

A top-tier candidate has options when it comes to their next career move. Assuming the candidate has multiple job opportunities to consider, the attractiveness of your culture may become the final deciding factor. So, the evaluation of culture fit is a two-way street for both the candidate and the organization.

If the candidate appears to be a strong culture fit, emphasize your culture as a key selling point so the candidate is excited about the alignment. The goal of clearly communicating your culture out loud during the interview is to help candidates envision themselves in your organization.

The final stages of the selection process also provide the opportunity to set an expectation that upholding your company’s culture is expected and rewarded. By setting this expectation up front, it will enhance your ability to monitor your culture and maintain the culture you created to support your business strategy.

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