By Johnna Major
With job fair season upon us, coupled with an inflated job seeker candidate pool, knowing how to spot a gem for your workplace is more than practical - it will save you time and money.
With the unemployment rate approaching 8%, employers like yourself are getting flooded with applicants for their open positions. Many applicants possess the qualifications and experience that you need for your positions, but how do you spot the candidates who are going to be a good fit for your company's culture? First you need to understand your company culture.
- Are you a team-oriented company or do you focus on and reward individual contributions?
- Do you value communication and keep your employees well-informed or do you prefer to keep information closely held?
- Do you keep decision-making at the top of the organization or do you empower employees to make decisions?
- Do you give employees opportunities to grow from within or do you always hire from the outside?
It is important to answer these questions honestly because only then can you identify candidates who will be a good fit for your company.
Take a Look Back
Next, think about the employees who have thrived in your organization and those who have struggled. What were the attributes of the employees who were successful? What were their backgrounds? Similarly, what were the characteristics of employees who did not succeed?
You don't want to create an organization of clones, but it's important to be clear about what employee attributes fit best in your company and carefully screen for these in both the application review and interview process.
Applications and Resumes
When you are reviewing applications and resumes, look for clues about cultural fit. If you are a small entrepreneurial company where everyone wears a lot of hats and has to take the initiative to set priorities, then a person who has worked in large organizations for most of their career may have difficulty adjusting to fewer resources and work structure.
If you value loyalty and growth from within, then a person who has had 5 jobs in 5 years may not be in it for the long-run with you. If you are a metrics-driven organization, then you'll want those candidates who quantify the results they've achieved in their jobs.
Once you've invited candidates in for an interview, ask targeted, open-ended questions to assess what they want in a culture. Some applicants are very clear about what they want and can describe it, but you may have to probe with others by asking them about the best and worst companies they've worked for. Their answers will tell you what kind of an environment they have enjoyed the most and the least.
So, if you have a very structured, hierarchical organization and they say that they loved being part of a small team where they could make decisions on the fly, they may get frustrated in your company's work environment. If you ask them to tell you about a time when they had to set up a process from scratch - and they talk about how stressed out they were while they did it - they're not going to be a good fit if your company requires employees to take the ball and run with it.
Taking the time to understand your company culture and then structuring your selection process to look for those cultural attributes will improve your chances of finding a candidate who will thrive and be successful for your company.