Firstly, I think HR is the reason why hiring managers care about culture fit when interviewing to bring someone new onto their team. Culture fit is a buzz word I’ve heard coming from the HR department for as long as I can remember, and at almost everywhere I’ve worked. Being in HR, I think culture fit means someone who has/can exhibit the same values as the organization. Integrity, innovation, safety, whatever it may be. During the interview, it is good to ask the interviewee for examples of how they have demonstrated the values.
For example, if safety is a core value for our company, and the person we are interviewing can’t explain how they promoted safety or lead by example, it may not be a good person to hire. I’ve had someone tell me in a phone interview that the safety program at their company was too complicated so people usually took short cuts, but cleaned everything up before a higher up or audit were to come in and check. I’m serious. Crazy right? Sure, part of this may be the safety program being too complicated or not communicated correctly, but part of it is definitely how the person chose to behave in regards to it. They took a short cut.
What I think hiring managers translate culture into when hiring, is that the new person needs to have similar experience and personality as their current team members so that everyone gets along. From my personal experience working with hiring managers, they want someone who is going to be harmonious with the team and won’t “rock the boat.” Why? Because it means less coaching and attention that new hire will need from the hiring manager.
However, we need more people who are going to rock the boat! Rocking the boat is how we change, progress, and stay relevant. We need to help hiring managers see the benefits of bringing someone onto their team that isn’t the same as everyone else, or will do things the same way as we have always done it. As long as the new hire will live by our company values (as we all strive to do, I know!) and of course has the relevant skills and experience, then I think it’s a good hire. We need to remember to focus on the person we are interviewing. Too often I see the hiring manager comparing candidates to each other, or worse, comparing them to current team members. It’s important to coach hiring managers to compare the candidate to the organizational values, and job description.
Be the change! Don’t be afraid to speak up during the hiring process. Explain why the way they want to select people may not be the best way. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!