hiring process

Photo by Roman Samborsky

How to Restructure Your Hiring Process for Fit Rather Than Vacancy

Few things frustrate business leaders more than a failed new hire. And yet, chances are your hiring process still focuses on filling a vacancy instead of finding a good culture fit. 

Think about it: Finding the perfect candidate for a job takes much time, energy, and money. So it is incredibly frustrating for a new hire to leave the company before recouping the investment. According to a Leadership IQ study, 46% of new hires either move on or get fired within their first 18 months on the job — and only 19% rate as an unequivocal success.

Those are certainly discouraging statistics. Often, our hiring considerations are so focused on assessing competency (i.e., “Can the candidate do this job?”) that we overlook chemistry (i.e., “Is the candidate a good cultural fit?”). When we take a utilitarian approach to the hiring process, we consider what’s on the résumé, identify the most technically proficient candidate, and then hire them.

Our long-standing hiring processes trap companies in a never-ending cycle of hiring the wrong people for the same position — all while wearing out existing team members with the start-and-stop nature of the process. That is why I approach hiring holistically, going beyond technical abilities to look at how a candidate’s personality will fit within the company’s cultural scope.

The Best Hiring Process: Find Candidates Who Fit the Culture

When my company started, it was just me, my girlfriend, and a few friends. We all trusted and felt comfortable with each other, so there was zero trepidation when making decisions and getting stuff done. When tensions did arise, it was because we’re all passionate people committed to success.

To be clear, finding a good culture fit doesn’t mean hiring people you want to grab a beer with after work (though it doesn’t preclude that). It means restructuring your hiring process from the ground up to look for more than just technical proficiency. Here are three ways to begin that process.

1. Create a “Personality Profile” of Current Employees

A few years ago, my company was in a rush to fill a management spot in our customer service department. After sifting through piles of résumés, we hired one of the first and most qualified applicants we found. A few months (and a few dissatisfied customers) later, the hire wasn’t working out — and stunted our projected growth.

The moral of this story? Get to know your employees and find out their likes, dislikes, similarities, and differences. You’ll likely start to see trends, and you can use that information to direct your company forward. This doesn’t mean every hire has to be exactly like the people already on your team. But forming a “personality profile” of your current staff will help you see blind spots or biases you can keep in mind as you bring on new hires.

2. Take a Sledgehammer to Your Current Hiring Process

Does your hiring process value chemistry and know how to find it? I’m not talking about silly concepts like “the “long flight test.” There are plenty of people I love hanging out with who wouldn’t fit in at our company. Likewise, you can probably think of people in your organization who are great at their jobs but honestly drive you a little crazy on a personal level.

Take your organization’s personality profile and intentionally apply it to every step of your hiring process. Look at the interviews that led to your best hires. What common themes emerge? How can you look for those same traits in a strategic, intentional way?

One way we’ve put this into practice at our company is through group interviews. This process lets our company’s DNA shine through, and it allows us to observe how the candidate aligns (or clashes) with our current culture and operating system.

3. Rethink What (And How) You’re Asking

According to Leadership IQ, only 11% of hires fail because they lack competency. With this kind of discrepancy, it’s probably best if the current method of interviewing — see a résumé, select a candidate — undergoes an overhaul.

That isn’t to say that companies should completely ignore competency. Instead, dedicate interview time to how candidates felt about their previous work experiences and what they liked or didn’t like about those jobs. Look at each potential hire’s analytical and problem-solving skills. Spend assessing their interpersonal dynamics. Get a read on how potential hires operate and be bluntly honest with them about your organization’s personality profile. Finally, ask for stories about how they’ve operated before in work environments like yours.

This is not a one-time restructuring of your hiring process. 

Keep everything that works for you, and learn from any hires who don’t pan out. Along the way, you’ll begin finding candidates who didn’t rise to the top of the list based on competency alone but who intrinsically gel with your organization. These are the people who last, build synergy with those around them, and become invaluable pieces of your organization’s future.