How do you judge cultural fit?

To judge the cultural fit of a candidate you need to understand your own culture and you can define it by considering the following:

What does the company value?

  • Are you a sales at all cost or a service at any cost type of business?
  • Does the company have a formal reporting structure or is it an entirely collegiate approach?
  • Does the business need people to work all hours or does it expect people to deliver on their own volition?
  • Is the business heavily customer focused or is it a back room function that doesn’t interact with external customers?

What common language does the business use?

  • Does the business have a common language based on the industry / customer base / technology / history?
  • Are people encouraged to constantly communicate or does everyone wear headphones?
  • Is emotional language and response part and parcel of the day or is it frowned upon?

Where and how are decisions made in the business?

  • Does the boss make all the decisions or is everyone taken into account?
  • Does the company encourage input or does it actively discourage it?
  • Do individuals make crucial decisions within their own sphere of operations or are they made for them?
  • Do teams make decisions and are they implemented?
  • Does the leadership take total responsibility or does effective delegation exist?
  • Do people just execute or do they contribute to the wider aims of the business?

What are the defining “war stories” in the organisation?

  • Apart from the obvious about why a company was started or what the founder’s vision was back in the day a company has lots of stories that are analogous to its offering.
  • What was the defining product or deal or customer that made the company what it is?
  • What breakthroughs have happened, how did they happen, who made them happen?
  • What failures, what history, what moments illustrate the business as you know it?

How is work structured on a day-to-day basis?

  • Do you work 9-5 or are your hours flexible?
  • Does the company put being present as a key priority?
  • What does the business think about part time work or working from home etc.?
  • Does the team need to be together or does remote working lend itself to the culture?
  • Has any of this been done before?

Once you’ve gone through that exercise it’s probably easy to find people who will fit the culture, who are inspired by the example set, the ethos and values of the business. It’s those individuals that’ll be a cultural fit for you and your organisation and are far more likely to be highly effective as a consequence.