Traditionally, hiring a new employee was a thorough but straightforward process of screening applicants through their resumes, cover letters, interviews and references. Hiring managers placed a strong emphasis on relevant education, job experience, skills and aptitude, and the most qualified candidate received the job offer.
Today, however, the hiring process has become more complex for many organizations. Employers are on the lookout for a candidate who not only has the necessary skills to be successful in the job but someone who will also fit seamlessly into the company culture.
The latter quality can be much more difficult to identify, but it is critical for employee engagement and retention. Most employers have gone through the trying experience of hiring the “perfect,” highly skilled candidate, only to find out later that he didn’t share the same core values or have a complementary personality for the workplace. It is time-consuming and expensive to hire and rehire new employees, so it is worthwhile to screen prospective employees for both their qualifications on paper and how they will “fit” within the organization. Remember: you can always teach new skills, but it is much more challenging to change a person’s values or personality.
In a recent Harvard Business Review blog post, Alan Lewis, owner of Grand Circle Corporation (an international tour operator), advocated using a values-based hiring model similar to the one his own company uses. Grand Circle uses creative, unorthodox interviews and challenges to screen candidates for both skills and values, including role-playing scenarios that require them to interact with others and make difficult decisions, and team projects where they must design a vessel for a “trip,” using only straws and tape, for a raw egg that they then drop from 10 feet.
Lewis noted that these methods give insight into how a candidate will work within the company culture and perform on the job:
Be crystal clear about your culture and values. You don’t want to hire someone destined to fail, wasting their time and energy (and yours). Being open is the best way to avoid that. Prospective associates will walk away on their own if they don’t believe they can fit in with your culture. We’ve seen it many times — as in the man who called our raw-egg exercise “really weird” and the woman who announced she didn’t want to be part of our “kumbaya culture.” It was far better to screen out these people in the initial interview than learn of their discomfort with our values during their first months on the job.
How can you incorporate this philosophy into your own hiring practices?
1. Advertise the company culture along with the job qualifications.
When you start promoting a job opening at your organization, make sure to emphasize the mission, personality, beliefs and values that make you who you are. Be open and honest to try to find the right fit for the job and the company.
2. Watch the candidates in action.
Use hypothetical situations, problem-solving puzzles or even elaborate hands-on projects (such as the Grand Circle Corporation egg drop) to observe how job candidates react when faced with a challenge. Incorporate a job shadowing or apprenticeship portion of the interview process, where an applicant would spend time learning the ropes on an average day at work.
3. Learn what makes them tick.
If you are seriously thinking about hiring a candidate, consider giving her a quick, thorough online personality test to get an idea for how she communicates and interacts with others and how you can help her better integrate into the organization.
How do you structure the hiring process in your organization? Do you pay more attention to qualifications or how a person will mesh with your company culture?
Learn more about the DISCself online personality test.