Category Archives: Cultural fit

Bad Hires Are Expensive

Bad hires are expensive

How do you know if the candidate will work out or not?

Bad hires are expensive based on an interesting survey performed by CareerBuilder revealed that 41 percent of companies estimate that a bad hire costs more than $25,000; 25 percent of companies said a bad hire costs more than $50,000. And the higher the position, the higher those numbers become. Besides such costs, which are extraordinarily high—and which can be avoided—there are other contributing elements: ones measured not in dollars but in lost productivity, impact on team morale, and total time wasted in recruiting, onboarding, and training the new employee. Certainly there are several other negative factors as well. Many would agree that an improved hiring process could minimize if not eliminate altogether such avoidable expenses.

So, where does the problem lie?

There are two troubling and basic issues that lead to such a bad outcome. The first is the fact that companies don’t attract qualified and very successful employees because the companies’ job descriptions are off-kilter; the descriptions are simply not spot-on descriptions. Some job descriptions are so oversimplified and empty that an employed and successful person is not attracted to them because such a person certainly isn’t going to change from a good job to an unknown, spottily described one. Other descriptions sound so demanding, complex, intricate, elaborate, detailed, and wordy (like this sentence!) that again, happy and successful employees are not going to venture a change, because they know they are not God-like, that they wouldn’t fit, that they don’t have all the extensively laid-out required qualifications, and that therefore they wouldn’t be able to do the job. Now, what are left among those who apply are people who might be in transition and have nothing to lose by applying. Let me hasten to add that I’m not implying that people in transition are lesser.

The second issue is with the hiring process.

What’s broken here is not enough preparation done up front, even before the interviewing takes place. The process is typically shoddy, superficial, and like puzzle pieces that do not fit; but still, it gets forced together fast because the replacement was needed yesterday.

The solution is easy: A team of people who are going to interact with the new hire ought to get together and decide on what type of employee they’re looking for. They must be clear about the traits and skills that are important for the hired candidate to have in order to be successful on the job. Once an agreement is reached on those issues, the interviewing process can start. Once all of the chosen candidates have been interviewed, the hiring team needs to get together again and thoroughly discuss each candidate. It is anticipated that if the hiring team performs its job in earnest, the best candidate will be selected. I submit that 90 days after hire, the team should get together a third time—this time to evaluate the performance of the newly hired person versus what was expected after their consensus meeting on the candidate they wanted for hire. The consensus meeting and the 90-day evaluation meeting put the team in a position to learn more about its own process and make improvements if necessary. Short of that, bad hiring practices will perpetuate, and the cost of hire will remain high.

Cultural Fit: What Is It All About?

Cultural fit

Cultural fit is as different as organizations.

Cultural fit is covered in many articles and points to the fact that the job interview is really all about the so-called cultural fit of the candidate, provided the skill and experience requirements are met as well of course. The thing is that in addition to the hiring manager, several other company members, too, are interviewing candidates to add their own assessments.

For practical purposes, what’s called company culture can be separated into two distinct areas. One is influenced by the top leader of the organization, and the other is influenced by the departmental leader or the hired employee’s immediate supervisor.

Years ago, I worked at a Fortune 100 company that had a history of buying many other companies whose individual and distinct cultures had been kept intact and independent of each other all along. At one point, though, a new CEO took over and decided to instill one single culture throughout the hundreds of subsidiaries and affiliated companies under his jurisdiction. That action caused an amazing transformation. I compared the new CEO’s influence to a magnet approaching a bunch of nails: all of a sudden, all of the nails aligned and connected to the magnet.

Certainly, a departmental boss has impact on departmental culture. Often, when you ask someone a question like, What’s it like to work at that company? the reply reflects the person’s pleasure or displeasure with his boss and, at times, his colleagues.

So, how—during the interview—can a candidate seem to fit into the company’s culture?

Similar to the cliché that says, “A leopard can’t change its spots,” a person can’t radically change personality. But because the outcome of the interview is highly influenced by a candidate’s cultural fit, the candidate can at least attempt to make the right impression, which amounts to simply the same thing as adjusting the words in the résumé to match the job requirements stipulated in the job ad.

People may have different understandings of what lies behind the proverbial cultural fit. The most accepted notion suggests that cultural fit includes the display of characteristics related to organizational culture, such as values, language, and outlook. Culture is the behavior that results when the members of a group arrive at a set of rules for working together. The rules may include elements of decision making, daily work practices, and even such things as the office setup. For instance, some organizations are hierarchical—with office spaces and sizes linearly matching employees’ functions in the organization. At the other end of that spectrum are organizations that are very egalitarian—with open-architecture office space, in which all employees having equally open and equally sized spaces.

Before the interview, the candidate should explore with as many people as possible inside the company certain issues, such as:

* Whether the work environment is highly stressful or rather relaxed

* Whether promotion is from within or fresh experts are hired from outside

* Frequency of meetings

* Volume and tone of internal e-mails (formal or informal, friendly or abrasive?)

* Whether teamwork or individual effort is the typical means of problem resolution

* Whether employees’ opinions are solicited or not

* How well poor behavior and underperformance are tolerated

* Whether successes are celebrated and in what ways

The list is endless, but those are a few examples of issues pertinent to company culture.


Your Brand: Do You Know What It Is?

Your brand is what you are selling

Your brand

Most people don’t know how they are perceived by others.

If you’re in transition and want to be found among the many people looking for work, you must stand out. How can you increase your chances of being called in for an interview if you cannot be picked out from the crowd? The answer is in your brand. Why do people ask for a Coke or buy Adidas? The reason is that they want that specific brand. So, how do you know what your own brand is? After all, that’s actually what you’re “selling” to your next employer in the hope that you’ll distinguish yourself from the many who have the same skills that you possess.

To find out, I decided to do a quick experiment in an attempt to reveal what my own brand is. I sent a request to several friends and acquaintances asking them to send me three words that come to mind when they think of me. The result was revealing.  Forty-six people answered, for a total of 138 descriptors comprising 60 different words. I grouped the similar ones and found out that eight times, people used the words honest and passionate; seven times; caring and insightful; six used the word smart; and five, dedicated and helpful. Many other words repeated themselves less frequently.

Different people see different things in you

Several things can be learned from this. On the surface, it would seem that my brand lies in the words that were mentioned most frequently. But if we look into it a bit further, it becomes evident that different people see different things in the same person. And although there are indeed some commonalities, the descriptors spread out very widely.

For people in transition, such a quick exercise might be very helpful. Even though you might be able to anticipate some of the descriptors, like I was you, too, might find many surprises. I hope they’ll be pleasant ones.