Cultural fit is very important in your company, but some businesses are taking the idea of cultural fit and using it to hire people who are pretty much identical to the people already on staff. The reality is, you don't really want to hire your best friends-you want to hire people who can work in that environment happily. You don't need to hire someone who went to the same school, or likes the same sports teams, or wants to do the same weekend activities.
When you focus on the wrong types of "cultural fit" you can end up illegally discriminating against people. "Oh, we love American football here, so we don't want to hire someone from South America because they prefer soccer." No one says that out loud, but they are thinking it.
Instead of bombarding the candidate with questions to determine their fit, share information about your company and see how they react. Here are some sample questions/statements to help you with your hiring.
1. We believe strongly in independent work. As such managers don't do a lot of feedback or oversight. How do you feel about working independently? This allows the candidate to say, either aloud or internally, "Yes! I very much enjoy working independently," or "Geesh, how am I supposed to know how I'm doing at work if my manager doesn't give me constant feedback?"
2. While our core business hours are 9:00 to 4:00 and everyone needs to be in the office during those times, most people put in at least 50 hours a week in the office. When we make a salary offer, it's based on the idea that you'll be working a 50-hour week. How do you feel about that? Note that this requires you to actually admit your workplace has troubles. But, this is the type of fit that is critical. You don't want to hire someone who is going to walk out the door after 8 hours every day when everyone else is working 10. That gives you a bad cultural fit.
3. We do a lot of team building events that are sports oriented. Of course, they aren't mandatory, but this is how we bond. Remember, your "culture" of sports activities can actually result in a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act if you require participation from your disabled employees-or even if you hold it against them. But, there are plenty of able-bodied people who hate sports. Let them self-select out, or at least come in knowing that they'll be excluded from opportunities due to the lack of athletic ability.
4. We feel strongly about giving back to the community and we have a commitment to have 100 percent participation in the United Way campaign. Some people feel blindsided when they join a company and negotiate a salary and then get pressure from the boss to donate a percentage of that salary to the boss's chosen organization. Be upfront about it in the interview and then you'll get people who are on board with your company's charity goals.
5. I demand perfection and perfect attention to detail. As such, I expect zero errors in work and perfect adherence to the style guidelines. Can you meet that expectation? How many bosses have the expectation of perfection but don't say anything until the new employee has made her first mistake? You want neurotic people who agonize over every typeface and line thickness on the spreadsheets? Then that's the culture you need to screen for.
Note that these aren't so much about finding out about the candidate-it's about you telling the candidate what your culture is. Sometimes, when you sit down and think about your culture, you realize that your company actually stinks. Then you need to make the changes, and maybe hire someone to help with that. If that's the case, try a question like this.
6. Our company has a problem with micro-management and long hours. I'd really like to transition to more independent work and a more reasonable workload. Right now, people respond to emails at 10:00 at night because they feel they have to. How can you help us transition to a healthier workplace? This way, your new employee knows exactly what she's getting into and the horrors that await her.