Assessing the Cultural Fit of Potential Employees

Creating a positive and affirming company culture is an important aspect of attracting top talent and retaining the best employees. Human resources departments have a responsibility to seek out and hire candidates whose personal values align with those of the company in order to ensure that they contribute favorably to the organization and its culture. When employees join an organization and are not a cultural fit, tension may arise between the employee and colleagues, as well as the managers. The tension can result in a hostile and unproductive work environment where neither side feels fulfilled. On the other hand, when values align and complement one another, the resulting synergy can create an especially creative and innovative work environment.

Assessing the Cultural Fit of Potential Employees


Investigating Candidates Online

When HR departments encounter someone they feel would be a good hire, they should look beyond the individual’s resume and conduct a preliminary Google search for potential social media profiles. Everything from content and profile pictures to links can provide insight into the person as a whole. The information can influence the decision to extend an invitation for an in-person interview. If the person’s shared content does not align with the organization’s values, then the HR representative can make a quick decision about whether to conduct the interview.

Due to the advent of social media, a person’s professional and personal lives are more connected than ever before. How people behave in their personal lives has a greater and more transparent bearing in the professional world. Naturally, candidates want to put their best foot forward, and individuals should tailor their online persona to match their personality offline. After all, the candidate likely wants to find a place that is a cultural fit just as much as the HR professional wants to hire someone who will fit into the company well.

In order to obtain as complete a picture as possible, HR professionals should search for candidates across platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Each profile picture can offer insight into what the person’s personality and future aspirations are. A selfie says something fundamentally different than a professional headshot. Importantly, neither message is better than the other provided that it is authentic. Some other information to check out includes interests, causes and companies they support and follow, and influencers. All of this information speaks to who a candidate is at the core and what that person can bring to an organization.

At the same time, HR representative must remember that an online presence does not always tell the whole story. Online investigations involve a degree of trust in that candidates are painting an accurate depiction of their personal values and goals. To that end, individuals should realize that they cannot altogether dismiss a candidate because of social media, just as they should not make blind hires because their online presence appears promising.

Discerning Cultural Fit Through In-Person Interviews

Assessing the Cultural Fit of Potential Employees

The best way to judge how a person will fit into an organization is to meet in person. The need for quick decisions does not always make this step possible, but especially for upper-level positions, HR professionals may want to consider traveling to conduct an interview, even if it consists of only a brief meeting in a hotel or airport. A brief meeting can demonstrate whether candidates have represented themselves authentically online or not. If a person seems fundamentally different than the impression that he or she has given online, what might be the reason and what does this say about how the candidate will contribute to the company?

During the interview, individuals can ask a number of questions to judge cultural fit. Some interviewers prefer a more direct approach and ask what sort of culture the candidate thrives in professionally. This open-ended question can discern whether a person has thought about organizational culture and its importance, and it allows the interviewer to judge how much the organization’s culture aligns with the candidate’s expectations. Candidates who lack self-awareness may trip over this question, which points to how much that individual values organizational culture.

Some interviewers prefer to take a different direct approach by asking about a time when a candidate did not feel like a good cultural fit. Ideally, a candidate has thought about why the mismatch occurred and identified the type of organizational culture that would be ideal moving forward. This question can also inform an individual’s capacity for flexibility, problem solving, and critical thinking.

Another way to judge cultural fit is with the classic question: Why do you want to work here? Ideally, the candidate has already researched the company extensively and has an idea of the type of culture it tries to cultivate. HR representatives should remember that interviews are a two-way street and that candidates are likewise judging the company and how it aligns with their values. After all, candidates have likely researched the company online, just like the interviewer has researched them.