By Marty Greenaway, Executive Search Consultant
Cultural fit is incredibly important in the hiring process. If a new hire shares the values of the organization they are generally: satisfied with their jobs, invested in the company, performing at a higher level, and likely to stay retained within the organization.
“Work culture” is defined by the Harvard Business review as “the likelihood that someone will reflect and/or be able to adapt to the core beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that make up an organization.” Essentially it means there are a written and sometimes unwritten set of values that are the backbone of how a company operates. The best companies in the world have clearly established work cultures that are imprinted in the way they operate.
It is vital for candidates starting the interview process to find out as much as they can about the company’s culture. This will help them to not only sell themselves beyond their technical capabilities but allow for them to see if the company is the right place for them.
Candidates need to be careful on how they respond to questions during interviews. Even the smallest mistake can turn a hiring manager off and often these small mistakes don’t represent what you were trying to communicate or your work values.
The most significant error candidates make in an interview is saying something that does not align with the values of the company they are interviewing at. In most cases, this is something that is easily avoidable. For example, someone interviewing for a sales role saying they are a collaborative worker that thrives in a team environment but stating they are an introvert will not align with that work culture. Less noticeable for a candidate would be stating over their career they have only worked at top 500 companies. This would be something to bring up if you were interviewing at a top 500 company, however, if the company does not have that status, it might come off the wrong way.
How you dress can also tell a hiring manager a lot about your potential fit within the organization. Ten years ago, you couldn’t go wrong with a suit, however, if you wear a suit to an interview with a start up company where everyone is wearing t-shirts and jeans, you’ll immediately look out of place. The opposite applies if you are going to an interview with a finance company on Bay Street, wear a suit; casual dress will almost certainly place you on the outside of their work culture.
There are many ways where you can prepare yourself for the cultural fit portion of the hiring process.
- Study the job description and look for buzz words that can give you hints on the corporate culture i.e. innovative, entrepreneurial, fast paced…
- Check the company’s website and LinkedIn, most companies will have snippets of information about their work cultures.
- Be prepared to answer questions on how you like to work and the environment you thrive in.
- Tailor your answers towards the skills you have that align well with the organizations culture.
- Dress according to the organization.
- Be transparent.
At the end of the day it just as important for you to figure out of you fit in the work culture as the hiring team.
Marty Greenaway is an executive search consultant with Feldman Daxon Partners.
- On December 16, 2019