Should your company culture change your recruiting approach?

Orla Hodnett
Orla Hodnett

A culture clash is expensive. Very expensive. The Society for Human Resource management claims it could cost up to 50/60% of an individual’s annual earnings.

A good cultural fit has proven to result in superior candidate performance and improved employee retention. It’s not rocket science. An independent worker won’t work well in a collaborative environment. A reserved candidate may not react well to an environment of open and constant communication. Recruiting to fit with culture is simple in principle: know your company culture and find candidates who share these views.

What is this, even?

At the risk of stating the obvious, a big part of recruiting to match culture, is identifying and setting out your company culture. What are your core beliefs as an organisation? What is your unified vision for where the organisation should go? As straightforward as this part sounds, it can be challenging.

Questionnaires, or asking current employees to choose 5-10 words that exemplify working at Company X, can give a quick and interesting insight for a HR team on how employees view their environment. Making this anonymous may result in the most honest answers. Once this has been worked out, it makes it pretty easy to know what you’re looking for in candidates. 

Build it and they will come

Establishing a culture is one thing, but marketing that to a pool of candidates is another thing. Culture is a selling point, as well as a framework for recruitment. The marketability of a particular culture cannot be underestimated.

Studies have found that recent college graduates are willing to accept a lower starting wage, for a more favourable corporate culture. Social media, online presence and customer/candidate interaction can all articulate this to potential candidates. When recruiting, it is essential to articulate your culture to candidates and why that culture sets you apart. 

It takes one to know one

This playground aphorism has surprising relevance if you’re trying to avoid a culture clash: get your current employees in on the process. No one is going to recognise an individual with the right attitudes and values quicker, than those who possess them already.

Involving current employees can also be a sincere way of demonstrating the values upheld by your company. Observing how candidates interact with current employees or allowing your colleagues to ask probing questions in the interview environment, can be an effective way of avoiding a culture clash. 

Observe and report

How you question potential candidates can be essential to identifying shared values between your organisation and candidates. It may seem traditional, but how a candidate responds and reacts are key factors in determining their attitude. How you elicit this information from them can be a skill in itself. How you deal with candidates and how you interact with them will tell a lot about them as individuals.

While recruiting to fit culture should not be the sole guiding force in your recruitment practices, it is important to bear in mind that you can train skill, not culture. It’s nature versus nurture. Breeding beats feeding. Either a candidate will gel with your culture or not and if not, it makes life pretty tough on employee, as well as employer.

While this seems like an intensive method of hiring, once you know the key points of culture, it can be a simple case of matching candidates with requirements, which can be easily automated with the help of recruiting software. Culture is something that you really cannot compromise on.

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