As a regional facilitator for Women Presidents Organization (WPO), I have the opportunity to guide 16 women business owners who own multi-million dollar businesses through their leadership and organizational challenges. 

In a recent meeting, a member shared that she was struggling to hire the right COO. She asked for guidance from the group on how to ensure a strong cultural fit when going through the recruiting and interviewing process. 

Every member in attendance could empathize with her situation, and I could as well. Here are 10 strategies all leaders can use to strengthen their hiring process, and improve their ability to identify candidates that will culturally fit with their companies. 

Institute a 360-degree hiring process.

At my first firm Information Experts, I was always the last person to interview key hires. Employee perspectives are critical to the hiring process because our employees see and experience things we don't. Our 360-degree hiring process ensured that the employees with whom a new hire will be working would be able to voice their opinion regarding the candidate's overall organizational fit.   

Interview specifically for a culture fit. 

There is so much that goes into culture alignment: company size, company values, the markets that the company serves, mission-driven versus non-mission driven, hard-driving or more collaborative. We often serve as the outsourced CCO (Chief Culture Officer) for several clients and are actively engaged in their hiring processes to ensure cultural alignment. We also schedule weekly check-ins with new hires for the first few months to ensure they are successfully integrating. 

Seek out candidates that have already achieved what you seek. 

Especially for a leadership position, you don't want your company to be a training ground for a new hire. In positions where there is a small margin of error, your candidates should have a solid track record in a company of your size.

Create a detail-oriented job description.

It's important to get as granular as possible when trying to fill a key position, so that there are no surprises and no misalignments of expectations. This exercise forces you to get clarity for you and your candidates. 

Implement values-based hiring.

Rolling out values to candidates after you've hired them is too late. Your core values, and the behaviors you expect of employees, should be weaved into your hiring process. We develop custom values-based questions for our clients that require candidates to share how the values have shown up in their lives.

Maintain confidence in yourself.

No one knows your company like you do. You may not be an expert in all of the skills required for the position you are trying to fill, but you are an expert in your company. Make decisions from a place of confidence rather than fear.

Take your time.

It's better to be without someone than to hire the wrong person. The wrong person may seem like a quick fix but ultimately they will cause more problems and liability for the company. 

Use assessments.

There are many personality assessments available today. Consult an expert to determine which is best for your organization to determine the type of talent that will thrive under your leadership. 

Trust your gut. Don't ignore small signs.

Trust your intuition. Listen to your red flags. One of my CEO members asks her team to hold her accountable, and not let her ignore the red flags she sees in candidates when she is anxious to fill a position. Her team does not allow her to make a unilateral hiring decision.

Success consists of competence and character.

Finally, remember that success is comprised of 2 things: competence and character. Often, one can increase competence through coaching, training, schooling, experience, etc. Character, on the other hand is hard-wired by the time a person reaches adulthood.

Your employees will spend a lot of time with your new hire. Is your candidate someone that your employees will genuinely like? Do they seem kind and considerate?

How they treat others is as important if not more important than their level of experience or education. 

Remember that everyone you interview will present their best versions of themselves. It's easy for leaders to dismiss red flags when they are trying to fill key positions. These strategies can help companies of all stages and sizes safeguard against poor cultural fits, and instead hire those that will have long, mutually rewarding careers.