When leaders need to fill a role on their team, they must think strategically about the right candidate for the job. This is especially important during economic downturns when there is an increased focus on efficiency and quality of hire.
Traditionally, hiring for culture fit — screening to determine a candidate’s cultural impact on an organization — has been touted as the best way to ensure a candidate will seamlessly integrate into a company. This type of hiring, however, means that the candidate will fit into an organization as it exists today, not necessarily that they’ll support a company’s positive evolution.
It’s time to retire the culture fit approach. But if you’re not prioritizing hiring based on a culture fit, what should you prioritize instead?
5 Steps to value-based hiring
- Identify critical competencies and attributes for the role.
- Define focus areas with assigned interviewers.
- Develop the right behavioral questions.
- Create a scoring rubric for your team.
- Emphasize rating objectivity.
How Culture Fit Hiring Perpetuates Bias and Lack of Diversity
In culture fit interviews, the interviewer is left to ask their own questions and report back on whether or not they thought the candidate was likable, which is subjective. When candidates are hired primarily for their compatibility with the existing team rather than their suitability for the role, it can lead to a homogeneous team composition. This homogeneity can impede efforts to diversify the team in the future.
Adjusting the recruiting process to assess what matters — experience indicative of future success in the role — will enable the team to find the best talent, regardless of background. Additionally, by eliminating the bias that typically creeps into culture fit assessments, you can increase the diversity of your candidate pipelines and maintain diversity throughout the hiring funnel.
Diversity is critical to building strong teams that drive business outcomes, as research shows that ethnically and culturally diverse teams outperform their more homogeneous peers by 36 percent in profitability alone. Additionally, teams with greater gender diversity have a 48 percent higher likelihood of outperformance than those without. It’s been long studied that greater team diversity drives innovation; inclusive teams may be up to six times more innovative and agile.
How Do You Hire for Values Fit?
To ensure an organization’s hiring process appropriately assesses values fit, interviewers must analyze a candidate’s principles and standards at every step of the interview process. But how do you do that?
The key is to determine what skills indicate success in the role. From there, ask questions to assess those skills through the lens of the company’s values. Identify what values matter most to your organization, and then find aligned candidates. Hiring managers should also ensure each interviewer buys into the values fit interview mindset and has access to the right resources to conduct one, such as predetermined questions for their assigned focus area, as well as a scoring rubric to determine the quality of the answer.
Suppose that a key competency to assess in candidates interviewing for manager roles is their ability to build effective teams. You’d want to ask questions that point to their competency in this regard and indicate the values they’d rely on to guide their efforts.
For example, one of Amplitude’s values is ownership, which we define as taking initiative to solve problems that drive shared company success. With this value in mind, if you wanted to assess a candidate’s ability to build successful teams, you could ask, “What is an example of how you’ve owned the responsibility of improving diversity on your team or in your organization?”
Now, you assess the answer on two levels. First, you gain an understanding of how they tackle challenges and how highly they prioritize the value of ownership. Second, you see how they could help the organization improve its diversity goals.
Say that you ask questions to assess what candidates have done and how they’ve done it. In that case, you’ll ensure that your hires have the necessary experience and competency you’re looking for and embody the values that would make them successful in your organization.
By following the steps below, you can develop a structured and effective values-fit interview process.
Step 1: Identify Essential Competencies and Attributes
Start by pinpointing the core competencies and attributes that define an ideal candidate for the role. These are the qualities you want to evaluate during the interview.
Step 2: Define Focus Areas and Assign Interviewers
Designate specific interviewers to focus on different competencies and attributes. For instance, for a leadership role, you might assign Building a Team and Performance Management to someone on the HR team. This approach ensures a thorough evaluation of all crucial competencies.
Step 3: Craft Behavioral Questions
Develop a set of behavioral questions that allow candidates to showcase their competencies and alignment with your company’s values. These questions should extract responses that reveal how well a candidate embodies your values and aligns with the role’s critical competencies.
Step 4: Establish a Scoring Rubric
Create a scoring rubric with clear criteria for evaluating candidate responses to behavioral questions. This rubric streamlines the process, making response quality assessment more objective and consistent across interviewers.
Step 5: Prioritize Objective Ratings
Emphasize to your interviewers that their ratings should be grounded in how well candidates demonstrated the desired competencies and values during the interview. Encourage them to focus on the candidate’s performance rather than personal opinions regarding job qualifications.
Getting the best people in the door is every recruiter’s goal, especially when open job roles are limited. But now more than ever, we need to be extra thoughtful about our hiring approach. Asking surface-level questions like, “Does this person fit in?” isn’t enough.
For better results, stronger teams, and more successful employees, focus on what a candidate could add from a values perspective. Think about what a team is currently missing and what would make them stronger. By hiring for values instead of prioritizing someone who blends into the company culture, you’ll give new hires, their teams, and the entire organization a higher likelihood of long-term success.