I recently conducted a workshop for the Carolinas Chamber of Commerce Executives entitled, “Motivating and Retaining Your Top Talent.” During the training, a participant asked, “For small organizations, when we’re hiring a new employee, don’t we have to consider his/her personality? After all, if a person doesn’t “fit” into our culture, the whole environment can become poisoned.”
Of course we want a new addition to our team to fit into our organization, get along well with others, and contribute to a favorable environment. This is true in large, as well as small, organizations. Especially in smaller organizations, where each employee represents a greater percentage of the staff, the impact of a “bad fit” can ripple throughout the entire staff.
But hiring based on personality or gut instinct has gotten many an executive and organization into trouble. I have met too many executives who have hired someone based on their personality, only to be sorely disappointed in the person’s lack of performance once on the job.
In addition, hiring on the basis of personality can leave your organization legally vulnerable. Employment litigation has increased dramatically in recent years. If you are confronted with an unlawful hiring charge, court costs and legal expenses alone can average $50,000, not to mention the damage to your organization’s reputation.
So the question is, “How do we recruit for good “fit”? How do we know if someone will blend into our organizational culture and enhance, rather than destroy, the environment?
The answer is to ask behavioral interview questions that focus on “fit.” The best predictor of future performance is past performance. And the best predictor of an individual’s ability to fit into your organization’s culture is their past performance in “fitting in.” We can learn this during an interview by asking relevant behavioral questions.
The first step is to define your organization’s culture. Once you know what you’re looking for in terms of “fit” you can construct the relevant behavioral interview questions.
For example, if your organization values teamwork, you’ll want to interview for the applicant’s experiences in working as a member of a team. If your organization values working independently, you’ll want to interview for the applicant’s experience in working with little or no supervision.
Examples of questions that can reveal the individual’s ability to “fit” into an organization’s culture are:
- Tell me about the most difficult person you have ever worked with or for and describe your contribution to the tension in the relationship.
- Tell me about a time when you were a member of a team and the team didn’t meet its goals. What was your part?
- Describe how you went about learning and then fitting into the organization’s culture in your previous job.
- What has been your greatest success (or failure) in fitting in to an organization’s culture?
- Describe for me a situation in which you were in a group that had “personality conflicts.” What was your contribution? How did you handle yourself?
- How have you gone about resolving personality conflicts in past positions?
By determining the behaviors you want and then asking interview questions that probe for those past behaviors, you will learn, in advance, whether the individual’s past behavior is a “fit” for your organization and thereby increase your likelihood of finding someone who will enhance your environment.
If you have questions about how to recruit and hire the best “fit” for your organization, please contact me at (301) 530-6300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.