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How to Hire People Who Will Fuel a Positive Workplace Culture

August 19, 2023

Hiring isn't easy.

Perhaps nothing will impact your company's culture more than people you place within it. How can you select team members who will be positive, supportive and help contribute to enjoyable workdays? 

Hire Based on Personality - Not Resume

Somehow over the years, the professional world has decided to reduce a person’s perceived value to an organization to a list of past jobs on a piece of paper.

A professional’s skills and experience are indeed important. Clearly, you must hire people who have the expertise to bring value to your operations, sales and clients. But a resume is only a fraction of the representation of a person. Skills and experience are less important than values and personality.

You can teach skills but you can’t teach personality. You can grow a person’s skills to the level you need them to be, but you typically can’t improve or change a person’s personality. “You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them,” according to business leader Arte Nathan.

This principle is exemplified in the book, The Ideal Team Player, by business management expert Patrick Lencioni. The book suggests that three specific qualities are required in order to have an ideal team member: being humble, hungry and smart. A person who has humility often praises others, gives credit to the team members, and isn’t out for herself. A team member who is hungry has a strong work ethic and seeks to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. A team member who is smart has deep emotional intelligence, is perceptive of others, and truly listens to what others are saying.

hiring for good culture fit

Hire People Who Fit Your Company Values

If we have a candidate at Blue Compass who has outstanding skills but doesn’t fit our values we simply won’t hire him. If we find another candidate who lacks a bit of experience but perfectly fits our values, we’ll choose this second candidate every time.

Author and speaker Simon Sinek says it well, “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.”

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Hire Team Members With Whom You'll Enjoy Spending Each Day

It’s also important to hire people that you and your team members like. The professionals that you let into your organization will spend innumerable hours interacting with you and your team. You wouldn’t purposely spend a great deal of time with someone who’s negative or unlikable in your personal life. Why should you allow someone who your team doesn’t like into your organization?

Sometimes a candidate checks all the right boxes but there’s something not quite right. You have a lingering doubt and you’re seeing red flags. In my experience, your gut feeling is usually right. 

One Bad Apple Spoils the Bunch When it Comes to Employees

As they say, “One bad apple spoils the bunch.” When you screen potential candidates, you must focus on the cultural impact they will have on your organization. You must ensure every person who joins will add to your positive culture, not take away. You must thoroughly screen each person who may join your team. Adding likable, friendly, positive people to your team is a recipe for strong company culture. 

Business and leadership expert Brian Tracy summarized the art of hiring well when he said, “Hire as much for attitude, personality, and character as you do for job skills. Make sure that the new person will fit in comfortably with your company culture and work well with yourself and others. If you select people with the right attitude and personality, you can train and manage them to do the job well.”

interviewing people for company culture

Ask Interview Questions to Based on Your Company Values 

A recent survey showed that 78 percent of job candidates admit they did or would consider misrepresenting themselves on their application. Put another way, just one in six job seekers say they didn’t stretch the truth during their hiring experience.

Finding the right team members is hard. How can you select the best employees if they aren’t always honest? 

One of the keys is to accept that hiring isn’t a cure for your current troubles. Adding an employee isn’t a quick fix for the current problem but a long-term solution for growth. Hiring shouldn’t be rushed. Employers that take the time to do their research, spend vast amounts of time with the candidate, ask difficult questions, and make expectations clear are the winners. 

With this in mind, you must discover the values of your candidate and examine how he will mesh with your organization’s values. You can discover this by asking him directly or by listening for themes in the interviews. I recently interviewed someone who continually referred to his wife and kids. Clearly, the love of family is an important value to him. In another interview, I heard a young woman repeatedly bring up how she felt she didn’t have a voice at her current job and how she wanted to contribute and be heard. Obviously, communication and listening are things she deeply values. 

Ensure your company values are clearly understood by the candidate. Ask questions based on these values. Ask which of the values resonate most and why. Seek examples of how she has displayed a certain value in the past. Your values are your first defense against the encroachment of a negative workplace. Use them as guideposts to evaluate who is the right and wrong fit for your team. 

As Tony Hsieh said, “It’s really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you’re willing to hire and fire based on them. If you’re willing to do that, then you’re well on your way to building a company culture that is in line with the brand you want to build."

This article is taken from the book, RETAIN: How to Create an Incredible Company Culture That No One Wants to Leave