Recruiting and Staffing to Fit Culture

Posted by April Parks, M.S. Conflict Management

Mar 28, 2014 11:52:00 AM

Recruiting and Staffing

Workplace culture has been a hot topic recently in trending news, blogs, and social media. Culture is what defines an organization and sets them apart from other companies; it provides balance between competencies and character. It is the foundation of an organization that encourages collaboration and communication among peers and drives productivity in the organization, while boosting morale all at the same time. Culture is essential for employees’ growth and is paramount to a company’s success.

Culture has become an important aspect of companies, but when hiring new employees should mangers offer a job based solely on the candidate’s fit with the company culture? While most of us agree that hiring someone who fits in with the company is important, it is only one part of what makes the candidate a good match for the organization and for the position. One must also assess their competencies and past performance to determine their fit within the organization.

What if it comes down to two people: one with a better resume and the other with less experience but a seemingly good fit with the organizational culture? Who do you pick?

First and foremost, the former question is most likely in the hands of a hiring manager or a small group of people. In the end, that decision rests in their hands completely. How do they come to a decision though, and one that is right for the company?

  • What can we compromise on?
  • What skills can be taught?
  • What is the easiest to train: a new skill set or character?

We can assume that culture will be a harder concept to teach or train because it relates more to behaviors, rather than the knowledge of a particular skill set. People are more likely to pick up skills faster than to understand, relate to, and engage in a new workplace culture.

These are a few things to consider when recruiting and hiring a new employee. You want your workforce to be energetic, talented, and productive at the same time so you need to weigh in on the various factors used to create a winning team.

Before you start the interview process, you want potential hires to understand the job vision including what talent is necessary to complete the job, what competencies are helpful, and what the culture is like.

You can address these in a job posting easily: teamwork or independent work? If professional development is a big component of your organization, mention that in the job posting. Are candidates expected to interact with clients and colleagues? It is always best to list these expectations up front so you can match applicants to the job and the company to the best of your ability prior to an interview.

Once an interview is scheduled, you can determine a candidate’s fit with the company through cultural questions.

Think outside the box!

  • Where is the place you’d most like to travel and why?
  • What was the last book you read for leisure?
  • Describe your favorite/best boss and what qualities you admired about him or her.
  • What would your preferred work setting look like?

These will all give insight as to the character of the person you are interviewing and how they would work in your company’s environment.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, cultural fit is a “strong predictor of employee retention,” which gives insight on why it is important to keep culture in mind when hiring new staff.

Mercedes Douglas, head of recruiting for an Internet search startup, said she hired a manager “and it created a lot of tension because he didn’t fit in. People tried to alienate him because they weren’t interested in him as a friend.” She also said one time she hired someone who didn’t have the perfect background or experience, but “I hit it off during the interview and because we got along so well, I was able to train her easily, and she ended up doing great things for us.”

Pret a Manager, a sandwich store, goes as far as to let a person work for a day and then lets the team decide if that person is a good fit for their culture. If not, the person is paid for their work and asked to leave. Although harsh, it must work for the sandwich shop because they always seem to have a friendly workforce and a loyal customer base.

Nancy Rothbard (University of Pennsylvania), Gina Dokko (New York University), and Steffanie Wilk (Ohio State University) co-wrote, researched and published Unpacking Prior Experience: How Career History Affects Job Performance. Their findings were quite astonishing in that they found “poor cultural fit completely eliminated all the good that came from experience.”  These findings suggest that hiring for cultural fit is crucial for a new employee to thrive in a company. When employees do well in their positions an organization is likely to prosper as well.

In conclusion when looking to hire new talents, keep in mind the cultural fit each candidate has with your organization. Although it cannot be the only deciding factor in hiring someone, research and HR experience shows its value and validity in the recruiting and hiring process and it mustn’t be overlooked. 

To see how your company can make the best recruiting and staffing decisions, check out TEDS Talent Management modules, in particular Talent Acquisition and Staffing at

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