Hiring is a critical and challenging aspect of running a business. Great hires can drive your company to new levels of success, but poor hires can result in a disconnected culture and internal strife. Culture impacts every facet of a business, so how can you weed out those who aren't an ideal fit?

We asked Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) members about the methods they utilize to determine whether a candidate is compatible with a company's core values, purpose and mission. Here's what they shared:

"We start every phone interview by asking what specifically draws the candidate to our company. You'd be surprised how many people barely know what company they're speaking to! It's an easy way to eliminate candidates who haven't done their homework. The best candidates will go as far as reflecting on our core values―which are posted on our website. This is also an early way to screen for a values match."

―  Julian Pscheid, EO Portland, COO/CTO, Emerge Interactive

"A good hiring manager looks for reasons why the candidate will be a good fit―such as skills, culture and experience; a great hiring manager looks for reasons why the candidate won't fit and determines whether or not they can live with it."

― John Gave, EO Detroit, Managing Partner, The Metiss Group

"We frame questions in a way that ensures the candidate will have accountability either to specific goals or to having their answers verified. As an example, instead of asking, 'What would your former boss say was your area for growth?' ask, 'When we reach out to your former boss, what will they say was your area for growth back then?' It tends to inspire honest, candid answers. Judge the answers against your expected outcomes and competencies for the role, and you're more likely to make an A-hire."
― Robert Kinsler, EO Baltimore, Founder and CEO, DC Fray

"As the first step in our recruiting process, we ask each candidate to submit a two-minute video explaining why she or he would be a good fit. We don't give any more direction than that. We're not looking for something specific, but rather how open a candidate is to being vulnerable and letting their personality shine. These videos have proven invaluable―we learn so much more about candidates through a video than a resume. Many find creative and fun ways to sell themselves, which gives us a feel for how the candidate would fit with our culture. And since we don't need a formal, in-person appointment to view the video, it avoids wasted time on both our end and theirs."

― Joel Patterson, EO Dallas, Founder, The Vested Group

"We ask a straightforward question that weeds out 90 percent of applicants: 'In three sentences, what's your favorite movie and why?' The answers reveal:

  • If the applicant can follow directions and use exactly three sentences. If they write one, two or four sentences, we don't even bother with their resume.
  • Whether the applicant can write in complete, logical sentences. Grammar and attention to detail are a must in our business.
  • A favorite movie says a lot about emotional intelligence and interests. Often, the response opens a dialogue to understand the applicant better."

― Craig Martyn, EO Orange County, Founder and President, My Metal Business Card

"Our first interview question is 'Tell us about our company.' We expect candidates to know what we do, about how many employees we have, and other aspects of our business that you would learn by doing nothing more than reading the About Us page and watching an introductory video on our website. If a prospective employee can't answer to our satisfaction, we rarely continue the interview."

― Shawn Anderson, EO Utah, Co-founder and CEO, PDQ.com

"To screen for culture, it's important to identify exactly what that means to your organization. So, in addition to a corporate purpose, core values and guiding principles, we've identified the qualities and values that we seek in candidates―and we include the list in our job postings. During the interview, we ask candidates to rate themselves from 0 - 5 and then explain their score on such traits as servant leadership, positive energy, teamwork, being highly articulate and a self-starter. The explanations are incredibly telling!"

― Jason Scott, EO Seattle, Founder, 120VC

"Above all, you ultimately want the candidate to be a good fit culturally. The questions you ask in the interview are a window to your unique company culture. When creating your list of interview questions, keep this in mind and select questions that will reveal what's important to your team. Happy hiring!"

―Shantel Khleif, EO Atlanta, CEO, Imagine Media Consulting

Published on: Jan 15, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.