Assessment & Selection

Assessing for Culture Fit

Aug. 18th, 2017

When you’re looking for new talent for your organization, what’s important? You want the best and brightest. A go-getter. Someone with experience. Someone who can do the job well.

A candidate may seem perfect on paper — she aces the interview, and her résumé is impeccable. She does well with the standard battery of cognitive and personality assessments you give your applicants. She has every job-related skill you’re looking for. But a few months into the job, and she’s flailing — and failing to fit in. What happened?

Cognitive and personality assessments are well-known to HR recruiters, and when combined with targeted interviewing, are important predictors of a new hire’s success on the job. But if you’re not looking at culture fit, too, you’re ignoring a significant indicator of employee outcomes.

The Cost of a Bad Hire

A commonly quoted figure from the US Department of Labor indicates that a bad hire costs an organization an average of 30% of the individual’s first year salary. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), puts that number as high as 60%. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, once famously said that bad hires had cost his organization over $100 million.

Turning It Around

Now, senior leadership at Zappos works to continuously define their company culture; and the organization gives cultural fit 50% of the weight in all hiring decisions. Hsieh’s net worth of over $840 billion illustrates that employees and customers alike are devoted to — and invested in — Zappos’ corporate culture.

The Value in Defining Your Culture

So how do you define your organization’s culture? Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you already have one. Some organizations, like Zappos, actively and regularly discuss their culture and values. Others inadvertently define their culture by what is left unsaid.

But when proactively define your culture, and disseminate that information throughout the organization, you get everyone on board. Everyone understands the values and expectations for success. This is especially valuable for your HR team, who can then hire candidates who are good on paper — and a good culture fit for your organization.

Assessing for culture fit may take a bit more time and money on the front end of the hiring process, but ultimately, you’ll be rewarded with employees whose productivity and happiness will benefit your organization for years to come.