How to Screen Potential Hires Who Fit Your Company Culture

February 19, 2018

Putting Current Employee Morale First

Company morale can make or break your bottom line. One of the most underappreciated elements of maintaining high company morale involves ensuring that any potential new hire is a good fit for your company culture. It’s imperative to have the right steps in place to check culture fit during your hiring process, so we recommend these three methods.

1. Assign Pre-Screening Homework

Prior to your initial screening call, send the candidate the Core Purpose (the greater good you bring to the world) and Core Values (the rules you live by) for your company. Ask them to provide a written response to the following question: “How do you live out our Core Purpose and Core Values in your personal or professional life?”

Not only will the response demonstrate a candidate’s writing skills (or lack thereof), but it will shine an obvious light upon those who are good culture fits and those who aren’t. Use the response to “gong early” (as Geoff Smart likes to say in Who: The A Method in Hiring).

2. Establish a “Culture Fit” Interview

From my experience as a former CEO, I have found that it’s harder to change someone’s behavior than their productivity. I encourage you to create a “gate” that readily determines if a candidate will move to the skills interview.

1. Identify the small team of employees outside the hiring department who would be best suited to conduct the interview.

2. Have them prepare behavioral questions that align with your Core Values.

3. After the Culture Fit interview, the interview team should be ready to present a collective “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.”

4. If it’s the latter, find out why, and ensure the team provides clear specifics. If it’s legitimate, don’t hire.

I look at it this way, if the candidate isn’t a culture fit, why waste your time measuring job skills? And even if this person has the greatest skills in the world, do you look the other way in regard to behavior? If you do this, you have sacrificed your company’s Core Values.

3. Cull the Herd with Incentives

Some companies go so far as to offer a bonus to quit. A great example of this is Zappos.

The popular online show retailer requires all new hires to go through a four-week training program. If, at any point during the training, they can choose to leave, and they are paid a month’s base salary plus a $3,000 bonus. The thinking is, if someone is not a culture fit, $3,000 is nothing compared to the eventual morale damage they could inflict.  

Since being acquired by Amazon, Zappos has slightly modified the leaving bonus, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. Jeff Bezos explained to shareholders “The idea is to encourage people to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”

This may sound like a bizarre, or even extreme tactic, but it is rooted in solid logic, positioning company morale as a top priority. By truly investing time to nurture your company culture, you protect your bottom line by preserving company morale.

Want to learn more about why company culture matters as much as productivity? Contact me today for a free initial consultation.