Last week, we worked with an organization trying to improve its odds of matching candidates to their culture. Hiring someone who will "click" with your existing team as well as your customers can be a challenge. Many authorities cite formulas for selecting the best team member. Most recommend identifying the competencies (both technical and interpersonal) that are required for the job and structuring behavioral-based questions to check for the presence of each. The candidate's answers will provide insight into his/her past experiences, assessments will reveal communication and conflict resolution styles, and an audition may give you an idea of how they influence groups. But, what about how well they share information, treat their colleagues, and prioritize your company's needs? How do you figure out whether they are a good fit for your corporate culture?
In a previous job, we were searching for an experienced event planner. The culture at our company was very "hands-on;" we moved furniture, picked up food, delivered supplies ourselves and cleaned up after guests. When we asked one candidate to walk us through the process of setting up on event, she told us that she would call catering, call facilities and call transportation to have all the details handled by those departments. As she described her experience, we realized that she was accustomed to a large, resource-rich environment and had no intention of actually pitching in to do anything physical. We also detected a sense of superiority over the groups she was calling to do the work. While she was a competent candidate, we could tell from her description that her vision of the job differed greatly from ours.
One of the best ways to make sure someone has the mind-set of your culture is to allow several colleagues to participate in the interview process and then compare observations. Sometimes, taking a candidate to lunch with your team can be immensely revealing. People can share their obversations and determine if the best technically qualified person is also the best for interacting with team members and customers.