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How do you hire for culture?

Carrie Scott's Profile


Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: VP, Thought Leadership
Company: Stampli
LinkedIn Profile
(VP, Thought Leadership, Stampli) |

First you need to have a culture to offer. A defined and recognizable company corporate culture is becoming a lost art. Companies have so much going on few spend any time at all to even think about the culture. Using personality tests when hiring people does not count in my mind in case anyone wants to offer that as a sign of establishing a corporate culture. I think the more relevant question may be, how do you establish and maintain a corporate culture?

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

So true, Ernie. If you don't have a culture, you can't hire to fit it. And yet, culture fit is the hardest piece of the hiring process and the one that usually leads to a high executive fail rate. So, it's important to establish what your culture is, and then create a process for ensuring your hires fit culturally.

John Hadley
Title: CFO/COO
Company: Crown Partners LLC
(CFO/COO, Crown Partners LLC) |

We use a majority of the final interview series to see if the person across from each of us is someone we want to work with day in and day out - regardless of talent. Whether they are going to keep their hands on the oars and respect those around them in the integrity of their work and live their respect for those on their team.

Denise Odette
Title: Project Lead
Company: TFP
(Project Lead, TFP) |

The business culture is essential to retain long term executive employees. However, the high turnover cost for employees at lower levels, makes the culture fit for all employees an important consideration.

Your comments also seem to ignore the importance of the non-work culture on employees and their families. As an employee who moved from a small mid-western town to a large city, I am very aware that the non-work culture needs to be considered for the entire family. A job honeymoon is very short if family members do not accept the non-work culture.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

I am not sure there is an objective way to do that. It is a gut feel and you have to accept the fact sometimes things aren't going to work out and you have to cut your losses and move on. I am not sure a culture is something you can write down on a piece of paper to judge someone against. For example, a company may say they treat people with dignity and respect. That is pretty subjective.

Michelle Rogers
Title: CEO
Company: Virtually There CFO Services
(CEO, Virtually There CFO Services) |

From my perspective, I have viewed the core values of an organization attributes which would charactorize the organization as if the organization is a person. Properly executed on, it is a very powerful tool to drive the company forward and ensure that all oars are in sync. When core values are not aligned, we often find the situation where there is a 'fit issue' which generally results in a performance issue for the employee. An extreme example is if one of the company's market differentiator is to provide excellent customer service and there is a highly skilled employee who is abrasive to clients and fellow staff members. Although the employee has the skills to do the job, the manner in which they do the job is not aligned to the core values and as such can cause damage.

As part of our annual strategic planning process, we have adopted the Rockfeller Habits/Gazelle's methodology. One aspect of that process is the establish our core values (I work with 5 operating companies so each have their own set of core values). There is an exercise called the 'mission to mars' which we have found quite effective in gleaning what the core values are for that particular operating company. The next step is to reinforce the core values through team meetings, email kudos, performance reviews and the recruiting process. For example, if one of your core values is creativity, you would ask situational questions to test the candidates view and application of this core value.

Hope that's helpful...

Lola Michaels
Title: Exec. Asst. to VPFA
Company: Boise State University
(Exec. Asst. to VPFA, Boise State University) |

Just a thought. This book provides a living example of the kind of culture a company could cultivate with results that include how to handle new hires and make them part of the program: "Leadership and Self Deception: Getting out of the Box, 2nd Edition" by The Arbinger Institute.

Steve Johnsen
Title: Compliance Lead
Company: ZenPayroll
(Compliance Lead, ZenPayroll) |

I would agree with Michelle. I think it's important to use your company's core values to establish a few interview questions that will allow an interviewee to answer based on his or her own values.

For example, one value at my company involves transparency. We usually aks questions that will result in answers about openness, communication, and accountability and how important he or she thinks it is or examples from past work experiences. The trick is asking questions that don't have obvious answers.

Carrie Roesner
Title: Controller and VP
Company: Centro
(Controller and VP, Centro) |

We make it like Fort Knox to join our company to ensure we preserve our culture! We're a fast growing company and bad hiring decisions at our speed of hiring could be disastrous. We use "The A Method for Hiring" - it establishes a framework for both the job competencies and we also add cultural characteristics to our framework for hiring. This is the single most useful book and training I have read/had in my professional life.

We also have multiple people interview - both at the supervisor level as well as the peer and direct report level and then rate the person on their skill set as well as cultural fit. We are fortunate enough to have a written Corporate Manifesto ( that gives us and the candidate the framework to establish that cultural fit from the onset. If your company does not have written values that establish the company's culture, the hiring framework is lacking so I would recommend having management establish something like this. If management does, perhaps you and your team can establish it for your team. Hope this helps!

Pat Voll
Title: Vice President
Company: RoseRyan
(Vice President, RoseRyan) |

Ernie and Michelle - I think your comments are spot on. We spent considerable time and effort in developing a formal values program which sets our corporate culture. A significant part of our interviewing and on-boarding process is centered around ensuring alignment with our values. We have developed a series of situational/behaviorial questions to ask during the interview process to guage the degree of alignment with our values. No matter how technically qualified a candidate is, if they aren't reasonably aligned with our values, things are not going to work out. We work hard to keep our values/culture strong - it takes commitment from the entire organization. It is a lot of work to get buy-in across the organization, but once you have that - it is so worth the effort!

Kate West
Title: President
Company: Caring To Educate, Inc.
(President, Caring To Educate, Inc.) |

When attempting to find the best fit for a position, you must first clearly and honestly define, not just the qualifications for the role, but also the QUALITIES that fit your culture and the position for which you are hiring. For example, when I needed a receptionist, I added to my list of basic skills these qualities: happy, friendly, team-oriented, fun-loving, mature, etc. After you have spent some time examining the qualities that ensure skills are successful, consider which questions you can ask that will reveal the qualities. Another example: one of the questions I always ask if I'm looking for a team-player is "Would you rather receive a B+ for a group project or an A for an individual project?" generally followed by "Why?" or "Tell me more about that."

During your hiring process, be sure that you get multiple perspectives, ask open questions - the more people talk, the more they reveal, and follow your instincts: you can teach or build upon skills, but it's much harder to teach or change a person's values.

Brian Kennedy
Title: President
(President, |

What is unique about any of your corporate cultures and how can you tell through a few interviews if said candidate is special enough to have the honor of joining your firm?

Philip Russell
Title: CFO
Company: FCB Homes
(CFO, FCB Homes) |

Excellent comments Michelle


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