Recruiting, Talent

Will Cultural Fit Land a Job Over Skill Set?

In any tight labor market, talent spotting and the hunt for the perfect employee are always challenging. Companies must go above and beyond to not only find the right fit from a cultural and skills standpoint, but they must also ensure that the checks and balances are in place to retain top-performing employees. We must ask ourselves: Is there a secret formula to selecting the right candidate?

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During my time as president and CEO of decision intelligence company, Gongos, I have experienced many wonderful hires and others who have not necessarily been an ideal fit long-term. Overall, I believe that employees thrive in an environment that matches their values and their desired level for personal and professional growth. My mantra has always been that a company should only grow at the rate at which it can attract, develop, and retain great people. If people are the link to consistently achieving your brand promise, it’s just too risky to think otherwise.

Finding highly skilled talent is just a small part of the challenge. Intangible qualities like curiosity, problem solving, and adaptability are essential to ensuring a company can flex with the demands of an ever-changing marketplace. And identifying candidates who share the company’s values is critical for reciprocal success between the candidate and the organization.

Here are a few words to the wise that will help push beyond a polished résumé and scripted responses and increase the probability of hiring a great match for your team.

People Are Your Brand Promise

A prerequisite to a great client experience is a great employee experience. And while you might invest mightily in marketing and communication campaigns, there is no better representation of your brand than your frontline employees.

Always keep in mind that people are key in ultimately growing a business. Identify and empower those who embrace your company’s purpose so that they are motivated to go the extra mile to make a difference with your clients. While it may seem time-intensive, going beyond skill set and truly getting to know the whole human during the interview process is a wise investment. Consider getting to know potential employees on a deeper level, and encourage their desire for creating authentic customer experiences because it is a mechanism for front-loading the process, and  it will save quite a bit of time in comparison to patching the holes and finding their replacement down the line.

Culture Is Everything

Creating a vibrant work environment that inspires people to achieve their best for clients, the community, and colleagues is no easy task. The road to success requires clear articulation of your company’s core values and the discipline to only hire those who match. Core values are the behavioral covenant that bond team members together—the hiring process is an opportunity to reinforce their importance as a key to nurturing and sustaining a strong, positive culture. It can be tempting to sacrifice a core values fit for a candidate who brings amazing skills to the table—especially if you need someone experienced and who can hit the ground running. But if you are a values-driven company, you are merely substituting short-term gain for what will inevitably be longer-term pain—not to mention the potentially damaging effects on your culture and fellow, valuable employees.

Simulate Success

Finding the right combination of core values and skill set is no easy feat. In fact, we have had to strategically reevaluate our hiring process. Taking the time to build out real-life scenarios for candidates enables a true win-win for the candidate and the company as the reality of job expectations, coworkers, and the environment become more apparent.

Scenarios not only provide exposure to day-in-the-life work assignments but also include interactions alongside team members, serving as an assessment of skills and a bird’s eye view of alignment with your brand values. Building out these simulations is best done by the core team and hiring manager since they live and breathe the nuances, and enlisting a Human Resources manager as copilot ensures a balanced discussion and consistent focus.

The Takeaway

The hiring process can be tough, especially in the current market where candidates can be just as selective as the hiring company. Having an intentional focus on bringing in team members who fit the skills and culture can serve as a huge differentiator—candidates will feel it and current employees will, too. If you hold the belief that great employees hold a key to your company’s long-term success, then following these tips is a worthwhile investment in your future.