• Matt Black

How to Determine Cultural Fit BEFORE Deciding to Interview

There are a million different things running through every hiring manager’s mind while they flip through applications during their search for new blood: “Where did they work before? How long were they there? What results did they achieve? How do they dress?”

But my question is this: how much time are they spending on cultural fit?

And furthermore, how do they view cultural fit as a hiring criteria… if at all?

Despite being listed as a hackneyed buzzword and with its importance mostly trumpeted in so-called “echo chambers,” I think culture might just be the most important element of any organization.

There, I said it. Culture is king.

Especially when you’re trying to build a team and identify potential candidates worthy of joining the fray. Cultural fit is an essential element of the hiring process, and it needs to be a part of your search from the start.

Here are a few strategies that you can use to see if your candidate fits your culture BEFORE you even pick up a phone and schedule your first interview:

Find out who they really are.

Wait. Isn’t that what we read resumes for?

Let’s face it: other than sitting in a room and having a conversation with someone, one of the best ways to get to know them is through their social media profiles. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn… the list goes on. Each one contains their likes, their hopes, their random musings, their day-to-days… oh, and maybe the not-so-good as well. These can be a great resource to consult when you’re trying to decide whether or not someone may fit your organization. Do they participate in similar activities or have comparable interests as your colleagues? Have they been to any of the same places as you? What kind of music do they listen to, or which sports teams do they cheer for? Remember: be fair and objective! Just because someone likes to enjoy a cold beverage at the bar with their friends doesn’t mean they aren’t worth a meeting. You’re looking for alignment and commonality – not a reason to pass.

Where are they coming from and where are they going?

Ah, now herein lies the value and power of the resume. Don’t kid yourself – it’s critical to understand a potential candidate’s employment history as well as their professional objectives.

For instance: what if someone in your pile is currently employed with one of your competitors? Or what if someone’s previous experience is completely relevant, on-point with where you’re heading as an organization? There’s a skill to screening resumes though. Don’t follow what everyone else is doing: you need to spend more than the 5-7 seconds. You owe it to yourself to invest longer than that. Obviously you can’t provide each candidate’s resume and supporting documentation a thorough and lengthy review. Thanks to tracking systems and fair game postings, there are simply too many. However, you have to make an effort to connect a candidate’s past and future with your present.

Are you speaking the same language?

Okay, so not literally… diversity and multiculturalism aren’t negotiable in 2015, and nor should they be. I’m talking on a more figurative level: does the candidate you’re considering use the same key terms that you and your organization are focused on right now? Is there a correlation between the responsibilities the incumbent will need to fulfill and the candidate’s previous achievements?

Being on the same page before you even sit down to discuss the position up for grabs is a huge advantage for recruiters. It shows that the candidate won’t require training wheels – they’ll be ready to make an immediate impact upon joining the organization. Having a firm understanding of the lingo your industry uses, the messages you’re trying to spread as a company, and being able to converse on the same level can become a deciding factor during the selection process.

What do your colleagues think?

Sometimes, it’s helpful to take a step back and ask others for their opinions. Especially when the others in this case may be working just as closely with your candidate as you will.

Fresh perspectives can also lead to a shared understanding of how a potential newcomer can contribute to the overall business. After all, it isn’t just one single department or team that will be affected by his or her presence. Maybe your colleagues will pick up on something you haven’t? Or could it be that you’re so focused on a positive aspect of the candidate’s qualifications, that you’re missing out on a negative? These are all possibilities that must be considered. I tend to believe that asking your coworkers for their opinions also builds credibility between the two of you as well. Cultural fit should be everyone’s priority – so make sure you create an environment where that type of collaborative effort is possible.

Share your thoughts on cultural fit and how you think it contributes to an organization’s overall performance. Can you think of any other ways that you could determine a great cultural fit prior to scheduling an interview? Feel free to discuss in the Comments section below!


©2020 by Matt Black Ink | All rights reserved | Toronto