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What Can a Beer Company Teach Us About Hiring?

August 21, 2014

“Hire the right people, they’ll stay with you, and grow with you.” –Jim Koch

480205019In a recent interview with Entrepreneur, Boston Beer Company founder, Jim Koch, stated that one of the main reasons for his company’s wild success was the employees he hired. Pretty surprising, right? It wasn’t just that they make a great product, it wasn’t that they advertised right, and it certainly wasn’t plain ol’ luck. It was the employees themselves. Seriously. Furthering that point, Koch said, “We were very careful about who we hired. We only hired people who we thought could fit in to the culture, and actually add to it.”

That’s a very important point for any company. Cultural fit is something that often times gets overlooked for education, experience, connections, and a number of other reasons. Don’t get me wrong, those are important factors as well, but sometimes too much emphasis is placed on where a person went to school or who they know. Koch specifically says that they downplay the significance of those traditional factors, and focus mostly on cultural fit. They look at who the candidate is as a person, what their behaviors are, what motivates that candidate, and what they will do when no one is telling them what to do. When you put all of those together, you’ll find an employee who is a great fit. With the right fit, you’ll have employees who are happy at work, believe in your product, and therefore less likely to turnover.

It’s no secret that the cost of employee turnover is very high. We’ve written that the estimated costs of turnover are between 90% and 200% of the leaver’s salary. You’re probably saying to yourself, “There’s no way in H-E-doublehockeysticks that it costs that much.” Let’s break it down though. You lose an employee, and you have to spend money to advertise the position, interview, screen, and hire a new person. On top of that, you’re losing productivity, overworking your remaining staff, losing knowledge from the person who left, and spending money training the new employee. Another point that gets overlooked is that new employees make mistakes. It happens, we expect it, but those mistakes might cost you. It makes sense to try and avoid all of that by keeping turnover low.

At Select International, I speak with HR professionals and hiring managers every day.  No matter what size or type of company they’re calling from, most say that turnover is their number one issue that needs to be improved. Fortunately, we’re able to help them with that.  I start by finding out more about their culture and see if they’re looking for employees who fit it. Often times, these companies tell me that they never consider cultural fit. That’s a problem.

So where do you start with finding candidates who fit your culture?

  • First, if you’re using employee assessments, make sure that some portion of the assessment includes cultural fit questions.

  • Second, ask the correct questions in interviews. The questions can be as simple as, “Tell me about the best job you ever had. What were your responsibilities? Is there anything you didn't like about it?” That question can give you some great information about what a candidate likes and dislikes in a job.

  • From there, compare their likes and dislikes to your company and the open position. You’ll have a much easier time finding candidates who stick with your company by asking a few questions about cultural and motivational fit.

Jim Koch and I may not always agree on beer, but we do agree on hiring for cultural fit. It’s necessary for building a successful company.

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Mark Rogers Mark Rogers was a digital marketing expert at PSI who specialized in human resources and leadership content.