Finding the Right Fit for Your Workplace

Finding the Right Fit for Your Workplace

Best Practice: Recruiting for Culture Fit

More and more business owners are hiring. How many companies will successfully fill positions? Not as many as you would expect, and not as many as those at great workplaces.

Finding the right candidate is a challenging and costly task for any business. It may involve recruiting or advertising, or sifting through resumes and numerous interviews, all of which eat up a staff's limited time. Some experts estimate the costs of filling a position can range from 8 percent to 20 percent of the position's annual salary for the first year. As the economic recovery sputters along, many companies are still facing a flood of applicants for each opening. This volume has not always translated into an abundance of talented candidates; most companies continue to experience a high failure rate with new hires.

In contrast, leaders of the best workplaces enjoy greater success. At these organizations, 92% of employees believe their management hires people who fit in well.

How do they create this level of success? These leaders make the hiring and interview process as much about the match between the organization's culture and a candidate's personality as they do about finding the right technical skills and experience for a position. Driven by recruiting philosophies like "hire for attitude, train for skill" and "hire our type of people", the best workplaces invest in extended interview processes, personality assessments, and internal trainings to ensure candidates are given a clear view of the culture and are thoroughly vetted on how well they would fit in.

Applicants are given a transparent look inside how the company works to ensure he or she is making the right choice for them. Often times, this insider perspective comes from the cross-section of employees involved in candidates' multiple interviews. Other companies take an even more candid and open approach to recruitment. For example, during the interview process at Heinfeld, Meech & Co., P.C., a certified public accounting firm, candidates are told, "If you have a chip on your shoulder and want to wield a big stick like accountants and auditors in other firms, then H&M is not the place for you."

Applicants considering Atlassian Inc., a maker of software development and collaboration tools, are also given an unvarnished view inside the company's culture during the hiring process. Visiting the company's website, potential employees can read through employee blogs, view employee-created videos about the culture and learn more about the company's unique values, such as "Open company," "no bullsh*t" and "Don't #@!% the customer."

As candidates learn about the company's culture, these workplaces work diligently to learn about the candidate's values. One example comes from McMurry Inc., a marketing communications company. The firm utilizes personality and work-style assessments to help search for "8s," its term for star candidates that exemplify the company's eight values. McMurry has invested in external experts to build these web-based assessments, which include custom internal benchmarking of applicants' characteristics against traits that have proven to be successful at the company.

Several other best companies have invested in internal training programs to ensure interviews are consistently and effectively conducted. For example, "Selecting the Best" is a training class available to employees at, a large hourly jobs site. The workshop trains "Snaggers" on a number of interviewing skills, including behavioral interviewing, active listening and providing objective assessments of candidates. This training session helps Snaggers engage in the important conversations that happen after a candidate's interviews conclude.

The recruitment and hiring process can offer a significant opportunity to maximize the investment in a new employee. Attending to a person's cultural fit avoids substantially negative results, such as newcomers showing poor attitudes, negative behaviors, and high levels of unmet expectations. Leaders who start investing in culture early on can shorten a new hires productivity curves and strengthen their commitment to stay.  

Now that you’ve hired the right people, Great Place To Work can help your team achieve business success. Learn more about our Journey! Leadership Development Program for managers.

Marcus Erb is a Senior Research Partner and Senior Consultant with Great Place To Work® and author of a monthly column on creating great workplaces in small businesses for Entrepreneur magazine.

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