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How to tell if an applicant is a good fit for your culture

job, job search, careers, South Carolina

People shaking hands over table during interview, How to tell if a job applicant is a good fit for your culture

When you’re looking to hire a long-term, key player for your company, you want to select that person very carefully. It’s not just about whether they have the right skills and experience, but whether they fit well with your company’s overall values and personality—in other words, your culture.

So how do you make sure your new applicant will be a good fit?

Be sure you understand your culture first

Your company culture is not just whether you wear jeans to work on Friday. It goes much deeper than that—and having only a superficial understanding of your own culture may set you up for hiring people who aren’t a true fit.

So first, take a deep dive and evaluate your culture. Be honest—presenting an unrealistic version of yourself will not help you attract and keep the right employees. Start by considering the following aspects:

  • Your mission, highest values, and long-term vision
  • Style and distribution of leadership
  • Required punctuality vs. more flexible start and end times
  • Formal documentation vs. informal communication
  • Channels for addressing issues and solving problems
  • Focus on accuracy and adherence to standards vs. innovation and fresh approaches
  • Emphasis on individual tasks vs. emphasis on teamwork
  • How much of your employee’s time is to be billable
  • Responsibility of individuals vs. responsibility of managers
  • Noise level, office layout, etc.

Part of your culture will be dictated by your industry, of course, but even within the same field, one company’s culture may differ greatly from another’s.

Once you’ve taken an honest look at your culture, you’ll be able to better identify which applicants are likely to fit best.

Be forthright about your culture

So now you understand your culture and are ready to measure how potential employees might stack up against it. How do you do this?

First, take what you’ve learned from your culture and consider what it means from an employee perspective. When you list your open position and describe your company, be sure to emphasize your true mission and values. If you want employees who are careful to follow instructions and be accurate at all times, make that clear. On the other hand, if you want employees who take initiative to solve problems on their own without management help, advertise the importance of that.

Being up front about your culture on your company website, on your job postings, and in your business interactions can go a long way in attracting the right people.

Ask applicants questions related to work styles

Along with the above, you should also talk about culture during the application process, and ask strategic questions to make sure work philosophies match up.

Asking about theoretical work scenarios can be a helpful way to assess someone’s working style. (e.g. “Let’s say you discover a mistake has been made during your shift. How would you handle this?”).

However, remember that during an interview, an applicant might be nervous and over-focused on trying to get the answer “right” rather than thinking through it naturally. In some cases these questions may be better suited for a written portion of your interview process, if you have one.

Note whether they’re interested in the bigger picture

An interview shouldn’t be just a one-way street. Give the applicant a chance to ask you questions, and consider what they focus on.

While we understand that not all applicants are eloquent during an interview (nervousness can be a real factor!), it should be obvious that they’re interested in more than just their job duties and pay. Do they seem curious about the company itself? Do they ask about a typical day in the workplace is like, or ask anything about management style?

A potential employee who’s serious about staying at a company long-term will probably be just as motivated as you are to make sure they’re a good fit for your culture.

Consider temp-to-hire

The interview process can only show you so much. Sometimes someone’s true work skills (or deficiencies) don’t become clear until they’re comfortable in their new work environment.

If you have an immediate position to fill, but only want to add full-time employees who are great fits and will contribute to the long-term success of your company, consider whether it would be appropriate to work with a staffing agency for a temp-to-hire position. This arrangement can give you the opportunity to see someone’s true colors before taking them on full-time, while also treating them fairly if you decide to pass.

Having trouble finding the right applicants?

If you seem to be getting a lot of applications but very few people who are good fits among them, you may need to find a staffing agency—or switch to a staffing agency who pays better attention to your company’s unique culture.

Staffing Agency Solutions for Businesses

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