Interviewing with Company Culture in Mind Is Better for Business

Blog Barista: Jessica Carnacchi | June 19, 2019 | Business Practices | Brew time: 5 min

Company culture can make or break a business; it has the power to attract and retain top talent or the power to drive it away. (No pressure.) While this isn’t necessarily breaking news, building and maintaining a healthy company culture is still a relevant challenge that many businesses are facing today.

A critical component to building and maintaining company culture is understanding that recruiting for “culture fit” is just as important as recruiting for a skill. At KL&A, company culture is very important to us. While recruiting, a person’s culture fit can sometimes outweigh their talent. Even if we find a person who knocks our socks off, if their values and priorities don’t mesh with KL&A, we’ll pass and continue to search for a person who will be a better match. Our reasoning behind that is because a talented individual who doesn’t fit within the organizational culture may become disengaged, therefore they would not be as productive which could potentially affect the company’s bottom line.

Upon realizing just how important it is for us to find talented folks who have the skills we’re looking for and fits within our company culture, we set to analyze and overhaul our recruiting and interviewing processes. In doing so, we were able to create a positive candidate experience and effectively evaluate for both job and culture fit. We’ve developed a rigorous, multi-phase process that helps us hire the best people for KL&A. While this process may not work for everyone, it provides insight on how to interview for both job and culture fit.

Our Interview Process

The Culture Call

Once we decide we would like to speak with an applicant, the interview process begins with a simple, 25-minute phone call with our Talent Acquisition Rep (that’s me!). By the time the candidate reaches this stage, we have already determined that he/she meets the basic qualifications for the position. For that reason, the primary purpose of the first phone call is to gauge if this person will be a good cultural addition to the team. To do that, we ask questions that will hopefully prompt answers that reflect our organizational values. For example, KL&A commits to never stop evolving as a company. Therefore, the ideal candidate will have answers that convey their value for continuous self-learning and improvement.

While it is important that all candidates are a good cultural fit for us, it is just as important for KL&A to be a good fit for them. One of our primary goals as an employer is to hire for longevity. A person who doesn’t mesh with the organization’s values may not be able to perform the job to the best of his/her ability and be unable to achieve long-term success. Therefore, we provide ample time for candidates to ask us as many questions as they want so they can make an educated decision on whether or not KL&A is the best place for them.

The Skills Check

Now that we’ve determined the candidate meets the minimum qualifications for both culture and job fit, it’s time to dive a little deeper. We hold another phone call and pull in one of our subject matter experts (i.e. developer, project manager, etc.) for the candidate to speak with. The goal of this phone call is two-fold: (1) gain a better understanding of the candidate’s knowledge base, and (2) receive more insight into culture fit. In order to accomplish this, we’ll ask position specific questions to quiz their knowledge, as well as scenario/behavioral questions to see how they would handle specific situations that may arise while performing the responsibilities of the position.

Throughout the conversation, we’ll also search for the innate qualities we’ve identified that make a person successful at KL&A. For example; we’ll gauge the candidate’s level of initiative, communication, and humility. That said, the most important question we’ll ask ourselves at the end of this phone call is: “can I see myself working with this person?” If the answer is “no,” then it’s time to part ways.

The In-Person Interview

The third and final (and debatably the most important) interview phase replicates a real-life scenario. It is held (if possible) in person in our office environment where candidates put their skills to the test to complete an assessment that replicates the problems and responsibilities they would have upon hire. Once the candidate completes the assessment, he/she will work through the assessment with our interview team.

The assessments and team discussions are the most critical to the entire interview process, as we are able to learn the most about each candidate. Not only can we properly evaluate their skillset based on the completed assessment, it also gives us a sneak peek into how the candidate would act on a real KL&A team. We are also able to evaluate the candidate on additional qualities we value in KL&A employees, such as competence, collaboration, and their ability to think critically and creatively.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Interviewing for both job and culture fit helps employers attract, hire, and ultimately retain top talent for their business. Since implementing our renovated recruiting and interviewing processes that focus on both elements, KL&A has seen an average turnover rate less than industry average. In the past year (July 2018 – June 2019), our turnover rate is a mere 7.8% compared to LinkedIn’s 13.3% average for computer software companies. We were also able to cut our recruiting cycles in half, from four weeks down to approximately two weeks. In doing so, we’ve created a positive candidate experience and filled our positions more efficiently and effectively, while maintaining the company culture we’ve come to cherish.

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