HR Blog

Hire to Fit Your Company Culture

04/04/2022 | PCI HR Consulting Practice

Poor hiring decisions can be highly costly for your company, in terms of business interruption, wasted recruiting and training resources, lower employee morale and more. You may realize that an individual is not a good fit, or a new employee may choose to leave if the job doesn't match his or her expectations. In both circumstances, many of these separations are because the hired individuals did not fit the company culture and therefore lacked productivity, creativity, and/or morale.


Culture is the unifying element that holds everyone in an organization together. Unlike an established mission statement, culture encompasses the written and unwritten behavioral norms and expectations of those within the company. Culture can set one company apart from others. It can include the value of work-life balance issues, how the company is organized, how leaders follow through on mission statements and many other factors.


Companies looking to hire individuals who fit their culture must first identify and understand it. For instance, if your organization recognizes personal achievements and awards individuals for a well-done job, then a team-oriented employee might not be the best fit. But suppose your company values the total team performance versus the contributions of just one individual. In that case, someone looking for personal recognition might not be as satisfied working for your company. Ultimately, if the fit is not right between the company and individual, both will lose interest, and the relationship will probably fail.


Importance of a Good Fit

Finding employees who are a good fit for the organization produces the following benefits:

  • Improved employee retention.
  • Enhanced employee performance because most individuals at the company share similar values and aspirations. When people share a common purpose and similar attitudes, it can encourage people to perform better.
  • Improved alignment from top to bottom, and employees may view leadership more positively.


Screening to Find a Cultural Fit

Developing a screening process that integrates prescreening based on your company culture can be accomplished with the following steps.

  1. Ask employees at various levels of the organization how they see your company culture. Then, identify the similarities among individuals—motivations, values, core competencies, etc.
    • When you can identify what makes the organization successful, you will know what to look for during the selection process. This technique is also helpful in avoiding hiring discrimination allegations because you have defined the key characteristics of your culture, which help you logically and reasonably justify your hiring decisions.
  2. Create a brand to describe your organization to potential employees.
    • Depict your culture accurately so that candidates can filter themselves in or out based on how you describe the company. If they do not see themselves fitting into your culture, they may not even apply.
    • To make branding more real for prospective employees, provide messages from executives, testimonials from various employees, virtual job tours, etc.
  3. Have candidates complete an online assessment as part of the recruitment process to screen potential candidates based on their qualifications, personality and other factors. Use properly validated assessments that meet legal and professional standards.
  4. Ask questions about traits you cannot or do not want to train someone how to do (being self-motivated, possessing integrity, etc.). Questions should determine if candidates have values and competencies that match with the company's culture.
    • Ask behavior-related questions and then rate open-ended answers on a scale.
    • Ask for examples of situations where candidates faced dilemmas or problems and successfully overcame them.
  5. Role-play during the interview process to observe candidates in action. Or, allow them to try out the position for a day to see if it seems like a good fit for them (and for you).
    • This step would come after all interviewing is complete, and reference checks and resume verification checks are also done.
  6. Know the laws applicable to hiring.
  7. Create metrics for measuring cultural fit by determining cost-per-hire, time-to-fill and quality-of-hire data.
  8. Make sure management is trained on how to interview for behaviors properly.
  9. Maintain accurate records of all your hiring decisions. During an audit or discrimination claim, you will need to produce valid justification for your choices.
  10. Human resources should stay on top of monitoring, learning and studying the organization's culture and then design policies that align with the culture. HR should constantly be asking if the organization is truly what it claims, if it needs to modify the culture to be more competitive and if it remains compliant with all hiring laws.


Don't Become Drained by Culture

Although finding a cultural match is beneficial, sometimes desperately seeking individuals who align with the company culture can backfire. Here's why:

  • If the company promotes itself differently from the culture, prospective employees will be lured in under false pretenses. If employees realize that they've been sold on a company inaccurately, they will probably leave shortly after being hired and will lack the morale needed to succeed while they are still there.
  • People who are too similar to one another tend to lack the zest needed to be proactive. If your entire company is full of mediocre performers, no one will stand out to motivate others to work harder. Along these same lines, groupthink may set in.
  • Emphasizing a company culture can become a legal exposure concerning compliance audits and discrimination accusations. Suppose you do not hire someone based on the fact that they "did not fit in with your culture" but have no quantitative proof to back this up. In that case, your organization may be held liable for discrimination or failure to comply with equal hiring provisions.