HR Management & Compliance

How Finding the Right Culture Match Has Changed in Our Remote World

The term “company culture” became a recruiting buzzword many years ago and has since turned into a key workplace factor. Start-ups and tech companies took it to the next level, innovating in the workplace to not only set the scene for great company culture but also attract those who wanted to be part of it.

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With the traditional office being a thing of the past—at least for now—does company culture still matter? The short answer is yes. Jennifer Howard-Grenville, the Diageo Professor in Organisation Studies at the Cambridge Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, suggests why: “Culture is the holistic and somewhat mysterious force that guides actions and interactions in the workplace.”

Without the ability to gauge personality and culture fit in person, however, finding candidates who fit your culture may be more challenging. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need to be flexible and work with what we have. Here are a few factors to consider when shifting your process to find the right culture match during remote hiring.

Personality Assessments Are Necessary

If you can’t assess personality as effectively over video calls, you need a tool that will give you a holistic picture of who the candidate is. Personality assessments, like those offered by Myers-Briggs, allow you to assess how candidates stack up in every area of personality, from communication and collaboration to how they think, judge, and use their intuition.

Before implementing these assessments with candidates, start with assessing all current employees to get a sense of the prominent personality factors that dictate your company now. Pairing those data with your company values and beliefs, which make up a key part of your company culture, can help you appropriately match candidates’ scores and determine whether they fit your culture.

Consensus Management Matters Less

When assessing personality, you may want to consider how collaborative a candidate is—how his or her personality lends itself to connecting with coworkers and working on a team. However, the remote work environment is naturally less collaborative and more independent. Without an office mate to swivel to with questions or a boss around the corner to bounce ideas off of, decision-making falls more to the employee.

While chat tools still allow employees to connect with managers and members of their team, remote work is naturally more independent. This makes it critical for candidates to be able to make decisions and work alone, whether you’re hiring an entry-level junior worker or a high-level senior manager.

Creativity and Innovation Will Be the Differentiators

Creativity and innovation can no longer be overlooked when assessing candidates’ personalities. Everyone is still figuring out how to make remote work run smoothly, but it’s no longer just leaders and managers who are bringing new ideas to the table.

Employees need to have a certain level of creative and innovative thinking to be able to troubleshoot ideas in their home office, improve collaboration with coworkers, and stay productive and efficient, regardless of the work environment. Asking questions that relate to ingenuity, initiative, and creative thinking will help you uncover the candidates who fit this necessary element of your remote culture.

At the End of the Day, Performance Matters Even More

Without an office to commune in, finding the best culture match takes a back seat to finding someone who can perform. The good news is that in our remote world, people feel they’re working to a higher standard. When Raconteur polled its readers, journalists, employees, and social media followers about this, 32% said they work to a higher standard versus 6% who said they work to a lower standard.

The question is: How do you find more employees who can match your current employees’ level of performance? The key is asking tough questions to determine past performance and how that relates to their potential in this new role. Some powerful performance questions include:

  • Tell me about a time when you approached an obstacle and succeeded in spite of it.
  • How would you describe your ability to perform under pressure? Give an example of when you exemplified these characteristics.
  • How would your current employer rate your performance on a scale from 1 to 10? Why?
  • Describe a highlight moment of your career so far.
  • Describe a project, a program, or an initiative you’ve run. How did it go?
  • Goal-setting is a part of a leader’s regular routine. Describe your goal-setting approach? How has it changed over time?

Find the Right Culture Match in the Remote Workplace

While the way we look at and experience culture in the workplace has shifted, it’s still a key indicator of success among candidates. As you navigate remote hiring, consider using personality assessments to get a clear picture of how candidates match up to current employees and your overall company values and beliefs. In looking at those data, take a closer look at key areas of personality that matter more in a remote environment, like innovation, creativity, decision-making, and independence.

While finding the right culture match looks a little different right now, it’s not an impossible task. When done well, your company can continue to thrive despite the shift to a remote workplace.

Bernard Layton is Cofounder and Managing Director of Comhar Partners, a recognized national leader in retained executive search, professional recruiting, and talent advisory services. Comhar, derived from the Gaelic word meaning “collaboration,” was formed with the intention of providing recruiting expertise in deep partnership with the client in order to solve talent management challenges. Comhar Partners is headquartered in Chicago, with specialized recruiting consultants based in six offices across the United States.