Are you struggling to hire the right personalities for your team? This article offers 6 ways to test culture fit throughout the hiring process.

It can be difficult to tell whether someone will be a good cultural fit during the interview process, but the personality and values of potential hires can make a huge impact on the work environment and the team’s performance. 

Hiring someone who isn’t the right cultural fit is just as bad as taking on someone who doesn’t have sufficient experience to meet the job requirements - if not worse. You can almost always train someone how to complete a task satisfactorily, but it’s hard to stop someone from upsetting the work culture when they are just being themselves. And disrupting what was once a cohesive team can be extremely costly.

This is why recruiters usually insist on meeting you at your office to discuss the role you'd like to fill. It allows them to gauge what types of people would work well with your team, not because they want to waste your time. 

Read: Why does my recruiter insist we need to meet!?

You shouldn’t rely completely on the recruiter to assess whether someone will be a good cultural fit for your business though. Nobody will be able to do that better than you and your team, so it’s important that you keep this in mind throughout the interview process. You might even want to adjust the standard process in order to better evaluate the candidate’s true colours. 

With this in mind, here are 5 tips to help you assess whether someone is a good cultural fit.  

1. Differentiate between the person and the job

When interviewing someone you should have a number of questions prepared to evaluate their ability to meet the job requirements and to see what it’d be to work with them on a day-to-day basis. How do they like to work? How do they like to be managed? What makes them tick? What frustrates them?

2. Personality assessments can reveal a lot

Everyone who is invited to a second stage interview at Burns Sheehan is asked to take a psychometric test from Thomas International. I’ll be honest – the benefits of doing this have massively surpassed my expectations. The test provides us with a basic idea of the candidate’s personality, strengths and weaknesses and how they respond to pressure, and this allows us to ask them much better questions. We also had all of our current employees take the test to make sure we hire a diverse range of personalities and manage people the way they like to be managed.

3. Ask curve-ball questions

Most candidates will have prepared answers to the usual interview questions – sometimes with the help of their recruiter. While I’d never advise someone to skip interview preparation, it can be difficult for the interviewer to really connect with the person across the table if all your answers come from a script!

As long as you don’t ask prohibited questions during the interview process, you are free to ask whatever you think will help you determine the interviewee's ability to meet the job requirements, their personality, their motivations and values. Curve-ball questions are usually the easiest way to get someone out of ‘interview mode’ and think on their feet and they probably will make them leave with a more positive and memorable interview experience. 

4. Let them lead the conversation

We’ve probably all had interviews where the interviewer sticks to a list of competency-based questions and make the whole thing more like a Q&A session rather than a conversation. This may be highly efficient, but it prevents either side from truly getting to know each other.

Letting the interviewee lead the conversation may feel funny at first, but it actually reveals a lot about the person: how they respond to pressure, how strong their communication skills are, how comfortable they are leading a conversation, and so on. If the conversation goes dead, it might be a sign that your personalities aren’t compatible.

5. Be yourself

An interviewee is much more likely to let their guard down if the interviewer does the same. Personality and professionalism are not mutually exclusive so you can be yourself, but remember the purpose of the interview. You want to assess the interviewee and sell the role and company, so if you’ve had a bad morning don’t let that into the interview. Keep it positive.

6. Don't hire people that are just like you

A great culture is built on shared core values and celebrates diversity and diverse thinking. It therefore allow a myriad of different yet compatible personalities to come together to form a productive, innovative and cohesive team. A homogenous team - made up of people with same gender, nationality, background or viewpoints - will struggle to innovate. Hire people that connect with and challenge you.

Written by Izzy Griffin Smith

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