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Why You Need to Eliminate “Culture” from Your Corporate Vocabulary

I’m not exactly sure when the decision was made to hire based on culture fit but, more and more, it seems to be the defining piece of the interview process. Too often we hear “this person can 100% do the job, but we’re not sure they’ll fit in with our culture.” When did we decide culture was the most important component of an interview? What exactly IS culture fit and why are we even hiring for it? More importantly, how do we make it stop?

Interviewing for culture fit started off as a way for companies to assess a candidate’s ability to adapt and grow within the organization. But now, culture is often conflated with perks. Think for a second about the answers your employees would give to a candidate asking them to explain your company’s culture.

If a kegerator tops the list, you’ve got a problem.

Wanting new hires to mesh with your corporate culture isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But the tech boom has forced startups to compete with one another on perks. And these perks often form the basis for what we think of as culture.

Instead of discussing perks, we need to get back to discussing company values — true corporate culture — throughout the interview process, from phone screens, to onsite interviews, to offer delivery and in the day to day. Values should be ingrained in every person at your company because, after all, your values are your culture.

So, how do we do that?

Identify Core Corporate Values

In an ideal world, your leadership, management and employees are passionate about what they do every day. They know exactly what they’re working on and towards and feel a sense of ownership over their daily responsibilities.

Once it’s clear what your entire company is focused on, it should be simple to distill down the bits and pieces that drive your employees to accomplish their goals. To help you pinpoint your corporate values, and thereby your culture, you need to define common traits shared by your most successful employees.

What qualities really link and define the best people at your company? For example, is everyone at your company passionate about social action or corporate social responsibility? Does every employee demonstrate a particular quality (intellectually curious, entrepreneurial, striving to be remarkable, etc.)? These are the common ties that make up your “culture” because people with these traits help bring your values to life each and every day.

Leveraging Corporate Values to Hire Your Next A-Player

The best way to ensure you’re hiring based on values instead of “culture” fit is to start outlining roles for your interview team.

Simple, right?

When setting up an interview, each interviewer should be given a skill to interview for in order to assess job fit. In the same vein, allow each interviewer the opportunity to assess an individual based on a company value, once defined, as well. By qualifying whether or not a candidate shares common company values, we can better understand whether or not they’ll be passionate about their role, inspired by the work they do and involved with the company.

While this sounds like a difficult shift to make, it really starts with the structure of your hiring process. By requiring interviewers to focus their interview questions we alleviate the pressure to talk about culture and team fit. Instead, we’re structuring interview time and qualifying candidates based on their ability to work within the values of the company.

More importantly, when we shift to hire on values instead of “culture” companies begin to bring in a stronger and more diverse team that aligns with the overall goals of the company.

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Katelyn LaGarde
Katelyn LaGarde
Recruiter, Sales & Marketing

Katelyn Lagarde is a recruiter at CloudHealth. She was previously a Talent Specialist at OpenView.
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