Beyond Skills: Hiring for Cultural Fit

Author: Beth Tucker, CEO


In the hiring process, skills are certainly important but relying too heavily on them can be a big mistake. Too often, the right candidate might not have the resume you’re looking for but may have experience that can transfer really well into a different position.

For instance, a person may have worked in public relations but could have cultivated organizational and communication skills to be an outstanding executive assistant. Conversely, someone may look great on paper but may not necessarily be the best fit culturally. To that end, you really need a good blend of both skills and cultural fit to find the right candidate for what the position demands and for what your company needs (NOTE: you can also look for a candidate with great cultural fit and the ability to quickly learn any skills that are lacking).

To vet for cultural fit during an interview, it’s important to spend time on questions that address this head-on. Be sure to prepare your questions in advance so they align with your company goals. If you’re trying to assess teamwork skills, for example, you can ask something like: Provide an example of a time when you went above and beyond to help a colleague, even when it had no impact on your personal bottom line.

Don’t rush through these questions during the interview, and don’t hesitate to ask candidates to elaborate or provide concrete examples if they don’t do so initially. Pay attention to their body language and demeanor. These answers are important, as they will help paint a clearer picture of how this person would act in your organization.

The best candidate for the job will rise to the top of your interview pool if you ask the right questions. At the end of the day, if he or she can get the job done well and can contribute positively to your culture, then you can count that as a win.