Hiring Experienced Consultants for Cultural Fit

Author : Dan Anderson
Published: April 11, 2012

Make smart hiring decisions and attract quality candidates and you will soon find yourself at the helm of a rapidly growing business.

It’s the start of the week and you’re reviewing your schedule. You’ve made contact with several important clients; you just don’t have enough people to cover all of the workload. You may need to hire a few more grunts or you may need to undergo significant restructuring. Whatever the case, you have a personnel problem that’s impacting the bottom line and you need to fix it—fast.

New hires won’t often fit like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle. You’ve got to find the right individual, but weeding out the losers just takes too much time. When rapid turnover costs are stressing your ability to remain competitive and your workforce is splintering into internal factions, what should you do? Investing more resources in interviewing and screening for cultural fit isn’t the first step—it’s one of the last. Follow this guide and you’ll be taking the right steps toward making your practice solvent and able to meet its commitments with no trouble.

Step 1. Establish an Identity

The first step toward making a name for yourself as a reliable business partner is defining your company’s core values. Almost every employer brags about having a collaborative, open-minded, spirited business environment. The best companies find new ground to differentiate themselves by selecting one trait that makes them stand out from the crowd. You should know who you are to know what you’re looking for in new hires.

Step 2. Advertise Your Principles

Once you know how you want people to identify your company, work to make it a reality. If your principles are to become more than a collection of words in a mission statement, they must be broadcasted in every action you and your employee’s take.. In some instances, finding out why people leave a business can be more instructive than learning why potential hires want to join. Since turnover is such a high problem is today’s fast-paced business world, you may want to take extra steps toward ensuring cultural fit, and is reaping the rewards of their work.

Step 3. The Airport Test

If you followed Step 1 correctly and can explain your corporate culture succinctly, you should be able to see how candidates measure up to that goal. Don’t worry about hitting every single point exactly, but do make sure to gather the important details. One hypothetical that helps hiring personnel judge candidates is the “airport test:” I can only hire this person if I could tolerate being with them for the entire day stuck at an airport. Consultants are often on the road and must keep busy and with the unpredictable nature of flying these days this test can be very useful. While the criteria you use will vary based on your own firm’s values, look out for candidates that can’t pass this very basic standard.

Step 4. Consider Both Sides of the Interview

Don’t forget that just as you’re examining candidates for fit, they are too. It’s a tough economic time and jobs may be somewhat scarce, but great talent will forgo a good job any day. Remember that your interviewing team should function as the personal embodiment of the values you espouse to uphold. Although candidates consider many different things when choosing a firm, there remains an intangible “fit” that many still consider the primary reason why they accept an offer. Clue in candidates about your own business practices and try to add to their comfort level during the interview. Hiring is a very important decision, but don’t forget that in a sense you are also part of the performance.

Step 6. Trust Your Judgment

Making use of a search firm to find potential hires makes good financial sense. But just because you use them for one point of advice on finding new blood for your business doesn’t mean they are infallible. Search firms perform a very specific function and can certainly help you obtain clues about the sort of fit a candidate may be. But just as many successful companies hold different corporate values, you too may differ from the search firm as to who is the ideal candidate. Recruiters oftentimes have a better handle on the motivations and skill sets held by a potential candidate. As I said above, screen for fit, but consult your recruiters about their opinions candidates to help form a baseline for judging their fit with your company.

Step 7. Judge on factual basis

Your guts may tell you this is the right candidate for your firm, but don’t let your decision process end just now. You need to make sure that your decision is backed by more than just a good impression and talks. Make the candidate go through case studies with by different interviewers to get various opinions. Ask the candidate to show you previous cases he worked on. Now you have a much clearer picture of how the candidate thinks and what kind of work he delivers. It’s easier to know with certitude if his methods will be a good fit in your firm. Last but not least, check the candidate’s references. Ask previous employers and see if the picture you got from the candidate during interviews fits their depiction.

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