The importance of assessing for cultural fit

Written by Melinda Kennedy, Senior Organisational Development Consultant
Previously published by PSI Talent Management prior to becoming Talogy.

Did you know that turnover due to poor culture fit can cost an organisation at least 50% of the employee’s yearly salary? While there are many factors that are also at play when determining fit, this blog is going to focus on culture and values and some best practice approaches to assessing your next candidate.

When looking to determine if a candidate will be successful in a role, you can assess if their natural strengths align with the core competencies of the position. However, just because someone appears to be a fit to the role does not automatically guarantee their success.

Culture of an organisation is often defined as the expectations, behaviours, experiences, and values that guide employee actions. It is necessary to define an organisation’s values as soon as possible, as it is the foundation from which to build and develop the company. There has been a lot written about the four different types of organisational culture, which are listed below. Which one is yours?

  1. Clan – Friendly, collaborative, and often viewed as a ‘family.’ Their values include teamwork, loyalty, and commitment.
  2. Adhocracy – This environment is typically one of innovation. Change is a value, and taking risks is seen as a positive attribute.
  3. Market – Often seen as a competitive environment. The focus is very results driven. There may be little downtime as an important value is to ‘get it done.’
  4. Hierarchy – Defined by policies and procedures. They value following the established guidelines, and there is not often a need to change things if it is already working.

How to assess if a candidate is a good fit

When it comes to assessing for culture and values fit, there are certain steps you need to take as an interviewer to ensure that you are asking questions to help determine this fit early in the interview process. And you also want to make sure you are aware of any bias that presents itself.

First, can you clearly articulate your organisation’s culture? If you asked various employees in the organisation, would they be able to state your company’s top values? The culture of the organisation should be easily identifiable because the employees should embody those values. Make sure that your evaluation of the candidate goes beyond the likeability or similarity factors.

You can gain a deeper understanding of what the candidate values as an employee of an organisation through interview questions that go beyond “What do you value in an organisation?” or “What would be your ideal company culture?” Instead, try questions such as the following:

  • What is something that you enjoyed the most about your most recent role? Recent company?
  • What did you enjoy the least?
  • How could your next manager best support you?
  • Where do you see your career in the next three to five years?

If possible, show candidates around the organisation. Let them meet employees (even virtually) and ask questions. Through those observable interactions, you will gain a better understanding of whether the candidate’s values match those of your organisational culture. It may also give the candidate – and you – insight into the current climate of the organisation. It is important to be able to tell the difference. The climate represents current feelings and attitudes and can be changed, while culture is much more stable and what you should be focused on when assessing for organisational culture and values fit.

Read more: Are you making these 5 leadership mistakes when trying to drive culture change in your company?

While there may never be a ‘perfect fit,’ it is always important to go into any situation with eyes wide open so that you can set your employee and the organisation up for success.

Recruiting for cultural fit

What you need to know to get started

Organisations are increasingly turning to the concept of “culture fit” for successful recruiting and hiring. Ensuring that new recruits have values and beliefs that align with those of the existing organisational culture can be even more important than skills, qualifications, and experience when it comes to successful hiring decisions.

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