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October 09, 2015

Should I Hire for Skillset or Culture Fit?

Bad hires are costly. Avoiding bad hires takes the right balance of hiring for skill and hiring for culture fit. But, with more and more employees leaving their jobs because of bad management and not feeling like they fit in, it has become increasingly important to weigh culture fit more than skillset when hiring. After all, you're not just hiring a new employee; you’re hiring a new team member. 

A cohesive team that works together seamlessly is not only more productive, but it also is a component of a highly engaged workforce. When people work with like-minded individuals – people who share the same values and characteristics – they’re more apt to get along and work together toward achieving company goals.

How to Evaluate Culture Fit

Evaluating skillset is pretty straightforward, since technical skills, or “hard skills,” are easily quantifiable. Evaluating culture fit, on the other hand, requires a solid grasp of your company culture in order to judge whether the candidate’s character and interpersonal skills, or “soft skills,” would fit your company. Once you understand your company culture, you’re on your way to making a good hire and avoiding a bad one. Here are some tips to get you closer to hiring the right cultural fit:

1. Mission and Values

What makes a candidate a good culture fit? First and foremost, a good fit means the candidate’s values align with your company’s mission and values, which are the core of a company’s culture. You want someone who believes in the mission and will work to help the company achieve its goals.

Interview questions to determine values and character:

  • What are you passionate about?

Do the candidate’s passions align with your mission and values?

  • What does a great workday look like to you?

Discover what inspires the candidate to do great work.

Character traits of the chosen spirit animal should align with the company culture.

Remember, the candidate is also interviewing you as a potential employer. To avoid a bad hire, be clear throughout the interview process about the company culture, mission and values so the candidate can decide if the company is a good fit.

2. Teamwork

A person’s interpersonal skills can make or break a team. The candidate’s communication and working styles must mesh well with the existing team.

Interview questions to evaluate teamwork skills:

  • Describe the management style that allows you to do your best work.
  • When you work in a team, what role do you usually play?
  • What role would your teammates say you play?

If possible, get potential team members involved during the hiring process. Set up an informal lunch or chat to get a better feel for how the candidate interacts with your team when not under the pressure of a formal Q & A interview. Better yet, have the candidate sit with the potential team and discuss a problem the team is trying to solve.  Watching the candidate in informal scenarios will give you a good idea of how the candidate would be in real-life situations.

3. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are soft skills you can’t really teach. These skills are often called upon to spark innovation to keep the company competitive in the market. Therefore, finding the right employee with the right skills is important for developing your company. 

Interview questions to evaluate critical thinking skills:

  • What can your hobbies tell me about you that your resume can’t?

Hobbies can show that a person has broad interests, which can help for thinking outside the box when faced with finding solutions to a challenge.

  • Tell me about a time you didn’t know how to do something.
  • How would you fly a helicopter full of peanuts?

Or, think of another off the wall question to get a feel for how the candidate thinks through a situation.

Ideally, you’d get tens of candidates presented to you that have both the desired technical skills and the personality traits that align with your company culture. However, most of the time, that’s just not the case. The saying goes, “Hire for culture, train for skill” (this is true to an extent - you want the employee to have a good handle on the basic skills required for the job). Advancing hard skills, like introducing a new or proprietary technology can be taught, whereas personality traits such as social and critical thinking skills are much harder to influence. Thus, weighing culture fit over skillset when hiring will help ensure you’re making the right hire. 

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 If you’re finding it challenging to find the right cultural fit, WunderLand is here to help. We are Talent Acquisition Experts who connect companies with in-demand digital, marketing and creative talent. We work with our clients to get a deep understanding of company culture to help them make the right hire. 

Want to learn more about our services?

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