Once you know your true company core values, every decision you make and every action you take needs to adhere to those core values. Arguably, the most important area to consistently apply your company core values is in your hiring process.
Hiring the wrong person can kill your company. On the flip side, hiring the right people can take your company to entirely new heights. And if your company is to be a highly functioning organization, you have to all share the same set of core values. Every employee needs to be a culture fit.
To make this happen, you need to define your hiring process. If you have different managers using different processes, you have a problem. To demonstrate how to create a hiring process that allows you to find and hire employees that fit your workplace culture and core values, I will share a brief overview of our hiring process at Tigerpaw.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of four articles focused on creating a winning company culture. Blog author and Tigerpaw President & CEO James Foxall is a recognized thought leader and speaker on company culture. In addition to this series and numerous tradeshow and event presentations, James is in the process of writing a book to share his passion and knowledge about the topic in order to help other companies go through the transformative culture journey through which he led Tigerpaw.
Write job descriptions that reflect your culture
A big change that helped us start attracting “our people” was to let our culture show in our job descriptions. One of our core values is “Quirky, Fun and Friendly”, and, yet, our job descriptions used to be anything but that. When we realized this, we made the decision to let our freak flag fly a bit in our job descriptions (check them out here).
For example, we’ll tell you that we don’t care if you prefer Star Wars or Star Trek, but you better have an opinion. Liking (or loving) bacon is also a huge plus.
At first, some of our managers were nervous that we would lose applicants that were turned off by our job descriptions. You know what? We do! And that is AWESOME! The reality is these job descriptions represent who we are, so better to find out we’re a bad match before anyone on the Tigerpaw side has to even read a resume.
If a candidate isn’t a fit for your culture, wouldn’t you rather weed them out before you spend a minute reading their resume? Or would you rather waste your time, money and energy in evaluating, hiring and training them only to have them create misery for others or self-select out of your company? Yeah, that’s a rhetorical question. :)
Weed out candidates who don’t seem to get it
The difference in responses we receive from our culture-reflective posts has been amazing. But the most amazing thing about the cover letters we receive is not just how candidates are interested in a particular job because they feel they could do it and it fits their skills, but also that what truly attracted them to working for Tigerpaw is the culture. Sure they want the work, but what they want more than anything is a new home, and they like what they read about Tigerpaw.
What about those cover letters that don’t mention our culture or that don’t offer their own quirky? Unless they otherwise appear to be that magical unicorn, we don’t move them forward. We want the person who can do the job and is a culture fit.
Do not be afraid to let your culture guide you!
Sell your culture during phone interviews
If we review a resume and it seems like the person has the skills we are looking for — and in particular if they provide an awesome cover letter (most don’t) — we set up a 30-minute phone call. While we ask questions about skills and experience, we are really spending this time probing for culture fit. The reality is, smart people that are culture fits can be trained in new skills. People with high-level skills that aren’t culture fits destroy your company.
During your initial interactions with candidates — whether that is a 30-minute phone call like us or something else — talk about your culture and ask questions to see how the candidate reacts. Find out what attracted them to your company. What stood out to them in your job description? Ask what they like and what they don’t like in their current culture. You want to know what type of environment they thrive in, and what types of environments they are uncomfortable in. If what they love is not what your culture offers, or if what they hate is your culture, pass on them.
At this stage, your Spidey-sense is important. If your gut says they aren’t a fit, it’s probably best not to move on no matter how tempting their background is.
You need to have a bit of a sales pitch here — the candidate is checking you out just as much as you are checking them out! Make them feel that even getting an offer from your company would be awesome. Do this with tact and not ego, and you’ll make them WANT to work for you because you’ll make them want to be part of your culture.
Add objectivity with assessments
I had a section on assessments but I cut it out because it wasn’t directly related to culture. I left this heading here though because I believe using an assessment process is absolutely critical, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention we use one.
If you want to work at Tigerpaw, you have to get through our assessment process before you get a face-to-face interview.
Confirm culture fit with in-person interviews
Once you build a healthy culture, it begins to take a life of its own and your employees will protect it fiercely. Let them help you find the right people and weed out those that aren’t the right people.
At Tigerpaw, we do this through in-person peer interviews. You may not meet with everyone on your future team, but you will meet with a representative group of your peers. They want to know that you have the skills to carry your own weight, but, again, a lot of their focus is on culture fit. Do they like you? Do they think they can work with you? Do they think you will add to the team or detract? Do they think you will be “one of us”?
This also lets the candidate get a feel for your culture and the people they would be working with; so, if it’s not right for them, they can self-select out of the process. If you’re going to manage at Tigerpaw – you’re also going to be interviewed by the team you are going to manage. It’s a novel, but amazing process!
A word of advice: If you let your team interview a candidate and they say “no”, don’t hire the candidate no matter what your gut says. Can I just say trust me on this one?
Sticking to a culture-first hiring process
When you have a detailed hiring process that seeks core value fits and you adhere to it with no exceptions, some positions will stay open for a painful amount of time. But consider the cost of a bad hire and the effect on the rest of the team. How much effort it takes to refill a position from a bad hire?
I highly encourage you to define your own process for finding those core value fits. And, once you get them, work your butt off to keep those people happy and engaged!
Need help defining your workplace culture and company core values? Get started by downloading this Creating Authentic Company Core Values Kit that includes directions and worksheets to guide you.