We often talk about the importance of hiring for culture fit as well as job fit when bringing in new staff but what does that really mean? Many companies have a set of values they use to guide the work they do but unfortunately, most think about those values on autopilot instead of using them to strengthen their workforce and teams. When companies make their values a true cornerstone of the organization you can see it reflected in how work is achieved and how colleagues interact with each other. A company that values cooperation, for example, should ideally have a culture that makes space for collaboration and open communication. Each new hire, then, has the ability to add to that positive culture or detract from it if their own values don’t align. That’s why having a clear view of what your company values and how that relates to daily office life can improve your chances of making a successful hire. But how can you tie your values into the hiring process itself?
What can you do to hire based on values?
Before you head into your interview rounds, spend some time thinking about your values first and see how you can tie them into your recruitment process. Start by considering:
What are your values?: The first step is to define what the core values of your company even are. What keeps your employees motivated to follow an organization’s mission? If you don’t know what it is you value as a company, you’re not going to be able to find it in your candidates. Many senior leads when asked to describe the values of a company aren’t able to do so and it’s no surprise why. Often a company’s values are lumped in with it’s vision and mission statement which don’t often come up through the course of daily work life. You probably heard about them during your onboarding and then never again. That’s the difference between having lip service values and values you live and breathe. So before you go out to start hiring, spend some time talking with HR and your senior team to clearly define what the values of the company are and how that impacts the workforce. Perhaps there are key traits you need on your team, for example, that would be helpful to know before meeting candidates.
Walk your talk: Are you values integrated into your company’s culture? If you want your employees to uphold the values of your organization, they need to know what they are. Ideally you want your values to be incorporated into the daily behaviours of your workforce so that all work has a clear and direct link back to the company and it’s goals. A good place to start is by asking employees at various levels of the organization to describe the values of the company as they understand them. If your employees can’t list your main values or can’t explain how they tie into the work being done, then there’s a problem with how you’re promoting your values within the company. If your employees can list your values and explain how the work they do relates to the mission of the company, then congratulations. You’ve done a good job of making your values into a living breathing entity in your organization.
Share your values when you recruit: Take a look at your job description and see if there are ways to integrate your organizational values within the ad. A good rule of thumb is to add some information about what the corporate culture looks like, any unique perks or benefits being offered, specific office expectations if applicable, or even a statement about the company’s attitudes towards diversity and inclusion. You want to paint a picture for a potential candidate so they can get a sense of what kind of company they’re applying to. A job posting that’s curt might not receive as many applications as one that’s descriptive and answers the questions candidates want to know. If you can attract candidates who already share your values right from the first moment they engage with your company, then part of the battle to hire more effectively has already been won.
Understand hiring for values: Yes, you want candidates who share your vision and have the traits to be successful in a role but hiring should always be about more than only one single piece of the puzzle. Hiring for culture fit is important to preserve the values of an organization long term. Sometimes, however, the right candidate might not be a perfect fit for what you thought you wanted to hire for and that’s not always a bad thing. After all, we don’t want a workforce that’s identical, right? Maybe a candidate will bring new skills with them that can address a gap on your current team. While it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to hire for, you also need to have a good idea of who your candidate is and how they’ll interact with your teams and culture. Assessments can help provide this level of clarity into a candidate’s potential and whether or not they align to the ideal candidate profile you’ve built based the traits and values you’re looking for. Using targeted behavioural based interview questions can also help you dig deeper in an interview to learn more about your candidate and how they view the world.
Connect values to onboarding: Onboarding is a great time to incorporate your values into a new hire’s learning and show how they connect to the company culture and mission. If you have a culture of open communication and community, for example, you might want to have a senior leader or the CEO pop in during week 1 to say hello and reiterate that their door is always open (in the times when we have offices and doors, of course). Or you could have a new hire’s team members share stories of times when they saw the company promoting their values in a way that resonated with them. As the onboarding moves along, try tying the learning being done back to the company’s mission so a new employee can see a clear link between that the company says it wants to do and the work they’ll be participating in on a daily basis. If you can start your employees off right from day 1 with understanding the importance of the company’s values, then that knowledge has an easier time of becoming ingrained, which in turn circles back to support the company culture.
Don’t hire based on instinct
Hiring is more effective when you have a clear plan of what you want in a candidate and why. By understanding the values of your company, you have a better chance of finding candidates that will be able to add to your organizational culture and help it grow. That doesn’t mean you want to hire a workforce where everyone is the same, of course, but understanding what your company prioritizes can help shape the way you approach job ads and other recruiting activities, how you interview, and ultimately how you onboard your new hire. When you recruit with a plan you stand a better chance of making the right decision then you do when you hire based on instinct. So take a step back before you rush out to find candidates and look at your organization as a whole. What’s important to your company and what kind of candidate will embrace it’s values? Once you have a direction to guide you, making an accurate hiring decision becomes much easier.