Hiring for Culture: Does the Shoe Fit?
Hiring for Culture | Baby Shoes on Big Feet
August 11, 2016

Culture trumps skill and will every time!

Traditionally when looking for top talent, hiring leaders tend to focus on the skills that the candidate brings to the role and their willingness to do the job. While these attributes are important, hiring for culture is more critical to the candidate’s success in your organization. When employees’ values are closely aligned to your organizational values and culture, the result is highly engaged employees who want to achieve business goals and improve results.


“Companies that hired for cultural fit were much more successful in staying in business, some for 50 years or more.”

“Built to Last” by James Collins and Jerry Porras

So how do you hire for culture?

Define your culture. Understand your culture and if you don’t know its makeup, start by asking your leaders how they would articulate your culture. Knowing what they believe are the hallmarks of your culture will help you evaluate perceptions vs. reality. Next, ask your employees to describe the culture and determine if the two points of view match. Where are the gaps in perception? What is the day to day reality?

Integrate culture into all collateral. Every talent acquisition practice and tool should reflect  your culture. Candidates form a first impression, fair or not, based on your posting for a role, your website’s career portal, and the interview team. Communicating your culture both verbally and nonverbally will attract candidates who want to be a part of your organization. It’s all a critical part of your employment brand messaging- just like your product marketing!

Employ behavioral interviewing techniques. I continue to believe that past behavior and performance inform future behavior and performance. Focus 50% of your interview discussions around cultural fit. Develop questions that will help you assess the candidate around their values and the hallmarks of your culture. While skill and will are important- skills can be taught. We all learned to tie our shoes and navigate our smart phones- didn’t we?

Involve members of the team. We work collaboratively today and we are in a knowledge economy. Involve employees who will be working with candidates in the selection process. To hire a top candidate that the team will support and welcome with open arms, find a role in the selection process for your key influencers and >listen to their feedback. Who knows the culture better than your current employees?

Assessing culture works both ways. In a recent study, I learned college graduates will accept 7% less starting pay to work for companies whose values and culture they appreciate. Gen Y-Millennials and the up and coming Gen Z see cultural fit as critical to their success and well being; they will accept nothing less. Defining your culture and hiring to fit the culture will help you build a committed and engaged workforce to maximize your performance.

Want to know more about hiring for culture? Join us for the next 30 minute webinar in our free SmallBites series on August 25 at 12pm. Click here to register!

Leesa Schipani

Leesa Schipani


With 20+ years HR experience, her focus includes HR strategy, talent management, and customer & employee experience. Leesa has advanced HR certifications: SPHR, SHRM-SCP.

1 Comment

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    Very helpful insight Leesa. I can see that good cultural fit would be a good motivator for management and employees.

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KardasLarson is a human resources and business consulting firm that maximizes employee performance so people and organizations prosper.



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