How To Match Cultural Alignment

alignment match

When you’re interviewing candidates to be hired into your organization, most of the interview process falls into the following categories:

  • Questions on technical knowledge
  • Asking about work history
  • Situational behaviors
  • Off-topic questions about their personality

These approaches may seem to help assess whether a person is the right candidate, but they don’t necessarily match the person with your culture.

The best interview methods will center around how a person truly aligns and matches with the organizational culture.

Years ago I worked for a company that partnered with the Gallup Organization. They had devised a screening process that was geared towards the core job behaviors that our company culture desired. The results were quite remarkable in that using this process our retention numbers dramatically increased and productivity spiked, all because we sought the correct fit from the start.

I have since looked to simplify that process (the screening process sometimes took over an hour, which was very difficult to manage during a hiring fair!) Here is a step-by-step process to effectively assess cultural alignment in potential hires:

  1. Have clearly defined values. If your company does not have this, then finding the right people for you will be a moving target. Anchor your core values, identify them, and enblazen them into your organization.
  2. Find which values are non-negotiable, and which ones have some leeway. Not every candidate will be a complete match to your values. Some will be much closer than others, but many will have some otherwise desirable values that are in line with yours. Make sure those you consider have at least the non-negotiable values to even be considered for hiring.
  3. Devise simple interview questions based on these values. Whether a screening interview or a formal first interview, these value questions must be the gatekeeper to your organization. Asking open-ended and situational questions, draw out the answers to see if they exist in the person your interviewing.
  4. Know what types of answer to look for. Have a series of buzzwords or behavior types written down to measure their answers. If the words or behaviors are synonymous, then the person is quite likely a match on that value. This also ensures consistency from interviewer to interviewer, particularly if varying leaders or departments are involved in hiring.
  5. If the candidate meets your value criteria, then proceed to your regular interview methods. Once they match your values, then you can continue with subsequent interviews to asses their character, technical skills, and references. But if they don’t align with your values, then the process needs to halt and you need to proceed to the next person.

Studies have shown, whether in Jim Collin’s many studies of great companies, or in the proven methods of Chick-Fil-A, Southwest Airlines, and Disney, that cultural fit is the best way for sustainable hiring and a perpetuation of the values that promote your success.

Ensure your new people match up with your values. An easier fit form the start is better than honing them later on.


(image: morguefile/jfelias)

About Paul LaRue

My goal - To encourage you to lead & influence others with positive impact.

Posted on April.28.2015, in Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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