In the recent times, realising the importance of coherence among employees, companies all over the world have begun to give high priority to ensuring a cultural fit in the workforce. Today, it is “cultural fit” over “competence” in workplaces.
In a country like India where you have people of varied cultures, it is very likely that certain employees feel like a misfit in the team. Such a situation brings down your company’s productivity manifold. In fact, a survey in America showed that companies lose thousands of dollars because of a culturally incoherent workforce.
What does ‘cultural fit’ mean?
When you talk of a cultural fit, what do you exactly mean? Does it mean that the new candidate has to agree with everything that the rest of your employees do? No.
Cultural coherence simply means that the new recruit should have a disposition that makes him comfortable in your company settings. So, if your company has a laid back, extroverted and easy going ambiance, a candidate who is introverted and reclusive is going to be a complete misfit and cannot work to the best of his abilities even if he holds the best qualifications for the job.
So, as an employer, you need to consider the cultural factor when you hire a new recruit. Although evaluating this aspect is trickier than assessing technical competence of a potential recruit, you can use a few methods to ascertain a perfect fit.
Frame behavioural questions
Behavioural questions are questions that help you understand behaviour traits of candidates. In order to frame these questions, you need to define the core values of your company.
For example, if your team believes in ensuring steady growth over rapid development, ask questions that make potential candidates choose between the two options.
In general it is a good idea to write down the 5 values that you want your employees to have and have at least 5 questions on each of the 5 values so you can test to see if they have them.
Make sure you ask the same questions each time and record the answers so you can compare each against the other after all interviews are complete.
Group discussion between your existing workforce and potential candidates
Group discussions have become a common way of evaluating potential candidates. In order to check cultural fit, organise a discussion between your current workforce and prospective candidates. Select candidates for the interview round based on their ideas and compatibility with your workforce.
When the going gets tough
In order to understand candidates in the best possible manner, put them under stress and see how they behave because the real character of a person is revealed only under stressful situations. However, do keep in mind that conducting a stress interview requires skill. It is as challenging for the interviewer as it is for the interviewee. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this or haven’t got the time to learn about and practice it then don’t do it.
Ask realistic questions about your company’s everyday work
Answers to realistic questions are the best ways to evaluate whether the candidate’s ideology matches your own. Throw certain real situations and ask the employee to make a decision on your behalf. Such questions tell you about the candidate’s efficiency in decision making as well as his mental compatibility with your team.
Ask silly questions
When you test cultural coherence, silly questions are actually not silly. For example, ask whether the candidate likes cricket or football. Does he like to visit beaches or hill stations? Does he like to read fiction or non-fiction? These choices give you deep insights into the candidates’ ideology.
Also, describe a tough situation at work between members of the team and ask what they would do about it. Would they intervene or stay out of it? If they do intervene how do they do it, what language do they use etc.
The renowned sandwich maker Pret A Manger has a unique way of testing compatibility. The company has potential employees work for a day with the in-house team. At the end of the day, team members vote to convey whether the potential recruit gels well with the others. Recruitments are based on this voting.
You don’t have to do something as drastic as Pret A Manger. Yet, make sure that you do have a set of strategies to ensure this very important factor.