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The Importance of Assessing for Culture Fit

December 8, 2020

Did you know that turnover due to poor culture fit can cost an organization at least 50% of the employee’s yearly salary? While there are many factors that are also at play when determining fit, this blog is going to focus on culture and values and some best practice approaches to assessing your next candidate. 

iStock-1163884774When looking to determine if a candidate will be successful in a role, you can assess if their natural strengths align with the core competencies of the position. However, just because someone appears to be a fit to the role does not automatically guarantee their success. 

Culture of an organization is often defined as the expectations, behaviors, experiences, and values that guide employee actions. It is necessary to define an organization’s values as soon as possible, as it is the foundation from which to build and develop the company. There has been a lot written about the 4 different types of organizational culture, which are listed below. Which one is yours? 

  1. Clan – friendly, collaborative, and often viewed as a “family. Their values include teamwork, loyalty, and commitment.  

  2. Adhocracy – this environment is typically one of innovation. Change is a value, and taking risks is seen as a positive attribute. 

  3. Market – often seen as a competitive environment. The focus is very results driven. There may be little downtime as an important value is to “get it done.  

  4. Hierarchy – defined by policies and procedures. They value following the guidelines, and there is not often a need to change things if it is already working. 

When it comes to assessing for culture and values fit, there are certain steps you need to take as an interviewer to ensure that you are asking questions to help determine this fit early in the interview process. And you also want to make sure you are aware of any bias that presents itself.  

First, can you clearly articulate your organization’s culture? If you asked various employees in the organization, would they be able to state your company’s top values? The culture of the organization should be easily identifiable because the employees should embody those values. Make sure that your impression of the candidate goes beyond the likeability or similarity factors.  

You can gain a deeper understanding of what the candidate values as an employee of an organization through interview questions that go beyond “What do you value in an organization?” or “What would be your ideal company culture?” Instead, try questions such as the following: 

  • What is something that you enjoyed the most about your most recent role? Recent company? 

  • What did you enjoy the least? 

  • How could your next manager best support you? 

  • Where do you see your career in the next 3-5 years? 

Where possible, show candidates around the organization. Let them meet employees and ask questions. Through those observable interactions, you will gain a better understanding of whether the candidates values match your organization’s. It may also give you, and the candidate, insight into the current climate of the organization. It is important to be able to tell the difference. The climate represents current feelings and attitudes and can be changed, while culture is much more stable and what you should be focused on when assessing for organizational culture and values fit.  

While there may never be a “perfect fit, it is always important to go into any situation with eyes wide open so that you can set your employee, and the organization, up for success. 

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Melinda Kennedy Melinda Kennedy is a Senior Organizational Development Consultant with Caliper/PSI. Her areas of focus include executive coaching, leadership development, and team effectiveness. Melinda holds two Master of Arts degrees in Psychology, the most recent focusing on Industry and Organization.