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Hiring a candidate who fits into your organization’s culture is just as important as hiring a candidate with the right skill set for the job. If your technically perfect new hire can’t keep up with the speed of the company, or doesn’t listen to constructive criticism, or continuously leaves his or her teammates behind to finish those time-sensitive projects because yoga class awaits, well, that person just isn’t going to make it, no matter how badly the business needs his or her expertise.   

According to a much-referenced study by Leadership IQ, 46 percent of new hires fail within the first 18 months of hire.  This failure rate is largely due to a mismatch of soft-skills.  The most commonly cited reasons for failure include coachability, attitude, motivation, or temperament.  What lessons do we take away from this cautionary tale doubling as a study?  How do we successfully hire for soft-skills or cultural fit when so many organizations have failed?

Cultural considerations lend themselves to the same scientific and rigorous hiring process one would naturally apply when scrutinizing technical skill. Below are some best practices that can guide the recruiting and hiring process to and through hiring the right cultural fit.

  • Know from whence you speak.  If your organization doesn’t collect data from exit interviews, performance reviews, or disciplinary actions, it should.  Knowing which cultural competencies are “make or break” is critical to defining a hiring process that screens for these qualities.  
  • Get granular.  Does the sales team move faster than other teams? I mean, really fast?  Does the boss in product management demand a high degree of professionalism?  Are the developers laid back, but willing to work all hours? Certain cultural competencies vary widely from team to team within any one organization.  Make sure you spend the time understanding what makes a team tick, who succeeds, who fails, and why, before going after quality talent to join them.
  • Make it explicit.   Once you’ve gathered the necessary cultural data and understand what spells cultural success on the team, make these cultural expectations explicit to your candidates.  Then, ask behavioral based questions that test their past success under similar circumstances. Remember, the past is at predicting the future. If your candidate can demonstrate fit through past actions and experience, you may have the perfect hire within reach.  
  • Provide a road map in the first 90 days.  A scientific and rigorous recruiting process can only deliver the perfect hire to his or her first day on the job.  It’s now up to the team to cinch success. Building a 90-day plan with plenty of support, coaching, and direction will help your new hire navigate cultural landmines.

While no one can guarantee that a new hire will spend his or her career succeeding in a single organization, hiring managers can greatly enhance retention rates with a threshold understanding of the cultural interplay within their organizations. To learn more about how to create an interview process that enhances your chances of finding the right cultural fit, download our whitepaper, “Perfecting the Perfect Hire” below or contact us.  

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