When it comes to hiring your next great employee, you might think his or her skillset is the most important factor to consider during the hiring process. But the most successful companies prioritize candidate culture fit.

According to a study from Cubiks, nine in 10 recruiters have rejected a candidate due to their lack of culture fit, and 84 percent of recruiters surveyed said culture is a prominent factor in the hiring process.

So what does it mean to hire for culture fit? Essentially, culture fit means the degree to which candidates and employees share similar values with your organization, and demonstrate an authentic interest in your open roles--rather than simply looking for their next job and paycheck.

Skills Can Be Taught

Given the historically low unemployment rate, competition for top talent is at an all-time high.

This means it might be challenging for you to hire a top candidate who is a perfect fit both culturally and skills-wise. But skills can easily be taught if an employee has the right mindset and is willing to learn.

At my company, one of our core values is "Eager to improve." By hiring employees who are interested in continuous improvement, we can feel confident that these employees will be motivated to learn all the skills they need to succeed and grow in their roles. New sales hires, for example, might not have previous sales experience but their willingness to learn and help the team reach our goals will help set them up for success.

On the other hand, hiring an employee in sales--or any other department--who has the right skills but isn't willing align with your core values or hasn't bought into your mission won't benefit anyone.

For employees who don't have the exact skills for a given role, it's important to offer ongoing training that goes beyond any general onboarding sessions. This training can be as simple as video training, which enables your employees to watch videos on their own time while saving your business money on traveling to outside training sessions.

Other training options include interactive Web-based classes, training sessions offered directly by your business, and training offered from outside sources. Also make sure to regularly check in with employees to ensure you're empowering them with all the resources they need to continuously improve.

Poor Culture Fits Can Negatively Impact Your Business

When you hire employees who don't fit in culturally, not only will they be less likely to succeed in their own roles, they can also have a negative impact on your team, causing productivity--and profitability--to take a hit. If an employee has a bad attitude or isn't passionate about your company's overall vision, it causes employee morale to take a hit, and can lead to both disengaged employees and turnover.

With low unemployment numbers, it's an applicant-driven job market, so employees won't hesitate to look elsewhere if they're dealing with a difficult teammate. You don't want to risk losing your best employees simply to hire someone who looks good on paper but isn't necessarily a culture fit.

How to Assess Culture Fit

Determining a candidate's culture fit should be a key focus during the interview process. When interviewing candidates, focus a handful of questions specifically on culture fit. For example, one of my team's core values is "Own the result." To assess culture fit with this value, you might ask a candidate about a time they made a mistake or didn't reach a specific goal, and how they learned or bounced back from this experience.

You can also measure culture fit when you ask why a candidate chose to apply to your open role. If he or she is vague and doesn't have a clear reason for being interested in joining your team, this might be a culture fit red flag. But if the candidate makes it clear he or she is motivated by your core values and your team's vision, it's a great sign in terms of culture fit.

Data from Harvard Business Review found that poor culture fit can lead to increased turnover, which can cost a company up to 50-60 percent of an individual's salary. By placing an emphasis on determining culture fit during the interview process, you can staff up with quality employees who will drive your team forward.

Published on: Jan 25, 2019