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Sizing Up Candidates for Cultural Fit Throughout the Hiring Process Job seekers who mesh well with an organization are also more likely to stick around, saving employers costly employee turnover,

By Heather R. Huhman

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


While skills and qualifications are important, more companies are looking at candidates' cultural fit to ensure they are hiring the right person for the job. Last June, Gallup found 70 percent of the American workforce is disengaged on the job, costing the U.S. economy as much as $550 billion in lost productivity.

This isn't the only reason that companies are looking more carefully at this factor. According to CareerBuilder, 38 percent of employers surveyed in February 2012 had open positions for which they could not find skilled candidates. The skills gap has prompted employers to look at different metrics, instead of focusing solely on resumes.

After all, a company can train for skills, but it's difficult, if not impossible, to make any given person fit a company's culture. Yet candidates who mesh culturally are also more likely to stick around, saving employers costly employee turnover. Replacing an employee can set a company back from 50 percent to 60 percent of the person's annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Finding candidates with the right cultural fit isn't simple. But the best way to ensure hiring success is to underscore the company's culture throughout the process. Here are a few ways to do so:

Related: How to Hire Someone Aligned With the Company's Mission

Promoting the culture. The company culture's should be an important ingredient in any employer-branding efforts. And social media is making it easier to share cultural values with interested applicants. Now companies can respond to questions on Twitter, make dedicated recruiting videos to upload to YouTube, share pictures from a company picnic on Facebook and create a talent community on LinkedIn.

After all, every second LinkedIn gains two new members, while 72 percent of adults use some form of social media, according to Pew Research Center. These social channels are great places to promote company culture, so interested applicants can absorb more information before hitting the apply button.

Related: Avoid Costly Churn. Provide Candidates a Realistic Job Preview.

Selecting candidates. Too many companies use a job description as a laundry list of tasks and qualifications, without considering cultural fit. The job description is a great place to talk about company culture and describe organizational values.

This can help to attract candidates who are aligned with the culture and interested in joining the organization, not just in gaining a title and paycheck. By focusing on culture in the job description, companies can foster better candidate self-selection, saving precious time in the hiring process.

Related: How Not to Embarrass Yourself During a Skype Interview (Infographic)

Interviewing. Using a one-way video interview, employers can prompt job seekers to briefly answer set questions. These video answers can then be viewed at any time and for any duration. So if someone is all wrong for the company culture, employers can move on to the next person.

"Video interviewing is a powerful tool to connect with the right candidates, but it requires some thought," said Josh Tolan, CEO of video-interviewing platform Spark Hire. "The hiring team should spend some time developing culturally specific questions to ask in the initial interviews to weed out badly fitting candidates and focus on the best people instead."

Here are the types of questions or comments that I use when hiring to test for cultural fit:

1. Describe yourself in three words.
2. What's your ideal work environment?
3. Tell me about a time you made a mistake. How did you address it and what did you learn?
4. What's your favorite aspect of your current position?
5. Talk about a time you worked as part of a team.
6. What do you like best about our company?
7. Describe about a work culture or environment in which you would not be happy.
8. How do you define success?
9. Give one example of a time you worked as part of a team.

Related: Onboarding Essentials: What Really Matters to New Employees (Infographic)

Onboarding new hires. According to the book Successful Onboarding, a 10 percent to 15 percent attrition rate will result in a company losing 60 percent of its talent in just four years. Few companies can afford this type of organizational turnover, especially considering the costs of hiring and onboarding. The onboarding process is a time to ensure new hires receive the training and education needed for them to get up to speed, but it's also the perfect time to stress the company's cultural values.

Folding a mentorship program into onboarding efforts can be a great way to connect new hires more fully to their co-workers and the company culture at large. Depending on the company and the staff, mentors might need to receive incentives.

After all, mentoring a new hire is no small feat, so bonuses like extra vacation days, financial incentives and even free lunches can sweeten the pot. Great mentors can not only get new employees up to speed faster. They can also give new hires an on-the-ground perspective of how the company culture plays out in everyday office life.

Since company culture is incredibly important for finding the right people, it should be present in every step of a smart organization's hiring process. Keeping culture in view from sourcing to onboarding can ensure the firm makes the right hire every time.

How does your company keep company culture in view throughout the process? Please share in the comments section.

Related: 6 Signs It's Time to Find a New Hiring Strategy

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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