Hiring · Startups

Tools to help assess cultural fit?

Randar Puust

March 30th, 2016

I’m helping a startup that has a fairly unique culture and is looking to hire technical staff.  One of the problems is that too many of the applicants are just a poor fit with that culture, despite the fact I feel the job description is pretty clear about it.  Most candidates are rejected quickly.  Besides spending time talking on the phone with each person to assess them (which is time consuming), are there any tools out there that help assess cultural (not technical) fit for candidates.  For example, get them to explicitly answer some questions (which is easy), make an intelligent guess (which is hard) and then provide an indication whether they would work.

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Jeff Mills Global Vice President of Sales at iMerit Technology

March 30th, 2016

Basically 1/2 the problem here is on the internal team. They are not outlining the “real” opportunity for the candidate to impact. The conversation needs to change from a job outline to more of a what this hire is here to impact. "We need the right person to come in and build our abc to increase xyz."- after they have identified this, both the team and the candidates are going to have a much better understanding of what they are getting into. After the phone screening, the candidate should be write a 1-Page Proposal that is showing how they are going to solve this challenge when they work with this team. The proposal is based on questions that are created for this specific position and can include one around "How have you shown that you are a (Cultural Message) type of person?" When the candidate comes into the interview, they are prepared and understand what the team needs. The team understands what the candidate is bringing to the table. The conversations has completely changed.

Dave Kashen Co-founder & CEO at WorkLife - We're Hiring!

March 30th, 2016

Check out http://roundpegg.com/ Dave

Christopher Platts Chief Rocketeer at TalentRocket - Company Culture Hiring Platform

April 5th, 2016

It's great to hear so many different opinions on the subject of company culture. As the founder of TalentRocket, a company culture hiring platform for startups and scale-ups it's great validation that we're in a market that people seem to care about.

Before I get into it, having 'fairly unique' culture is impossible (not to mention grammatically frustrating). ;)
All companies have a unique culture and the tangible benefits of hiring people that align with your culture are well documented. Amongst other benefits, companies that invest in culture and workplace happiness show:

43% more productivity (Hay Group)
37% more sales (Shawn Achor)
51% less turnover (Gallup)
800% more innovation (HBR)

So it's a pretty big deal to get it right.

Plus there's nothing worse than sitting down to interview and after 10 seconds knowing that there's no way this is going to work out (cue painfully polite and awkward next 30 minutes)

*Shameless plug alert*

TalentRocket markets your company culture and jobs to a talent pool of candidates. We are a curated list of companies with great cultures and help companies build a talent pool of culture fans to hire from saving time and money in the hiring process. You can see the skills and experiences of candidates alongside data on how accurately they match your team/company culture (we're about 2 weeks off launching this last feature). Our aim is to eliminate unconscious bias in the candidate selection process and encourage companies to embrace a diversity of backgrounds, ages, races and ideas, but not of values.

We give companies data on whether that person will thrive in the "unique" team environments they have created. So get in touch if you'd like to know more Randar. :)

Mitch Harris VP of Data Engineering at Beacinsight, Inc.

March 30th, 2016

Culture is a fishy thing to desire. You may end up with an old boys club, or a gang of brogrammers (which of course may be what you want). 

Instead you may want a kind of quantitative personality assessment. You should specify for yourself as explicitly as you can what your desires/expectations are, then give prospectives a quantitative test (like Rembrandt http://www.rembrandtadvantage.com/, or Predictive Index (look for lots of places that will do this). Yes, these have their problems but they're better than nothing.

They will give you lots of graphs along with qualitative assessment so you can make a more -unbiased- choice. Otherwise you're just playing with brief interview misleading superficialities.

Rob Kornblum

March 30th, 2016

There are plenty of good video interviewing tools where you can configure the questions and then watch the video responses.

Bruce Carpenter Co-founder and Principal, Harbour Bridge Ventures

March 30th, 2016

The suggestions offered so far appear sound and I would not disagree with any of them.  It seems from your question that one challenge you are encountering is spending the time of you and your team as well as the applicants when the applicants appear not to be a good cultural fit for the organization and it present members.  I would suggest that you first decide what are the "genetic markers" of the culture you aspire to create or perpetuate in the organization and among its team members.  Once you have documented it clearly and concisely, develop a set of survey questions that explore the likelihood of the applicants fit against that culture.  The questions may be open ended requesting a reply, multiple choice, or some other type such as true/false, etc.  Using a tool like Survey Monkey or some other online survey tool, you can then request applicants complete the survey and review online their answers before committing your own, your team's, or the applicant's time in a face to face interview.  You may find after the first few reviews it is necessary to refine the survey which can be easily accomplished with a tool such as Survey Monkey.  I hope this helps.

Stefan Pagacik Innovation Catalyst | Impact Platform Development, Finance and Human Capital Advancement

March 30th, 2016

When you are talking about culture and 'fit', you need more than a tool or an assessment. A lot has to go into the process and if you are not willing to commit the time and energy, than your culture is simply not a priority. First step is to define your culture in terms that can be agreed upon by everyone in your company. Can they describe what it's like to work for you in thirty seconds or less? Do they hesitate or try and use stock phrases to describe the environment? All of these are signs but not the be all, end all of your culture. You need a lot more.

As a company, you have to define your environment, values, objectives, standards and policies such that everyone in the company feels as if they belong and it aligns with their personal values and character. Setting expectations is another huge aspect of culture. What are your expectations for your employees? What are their expectations of you? Lack of alignment, trust, and collaboration can kill a company as Alison found out the hard way. If you want authentic employees and a culture of trust, set that expectation and deliver on it. Otherwise, you'll attract those looking out for themselves rather than the best interests of your company. Just my two cents.

Chiquita PhD President & CEO, Marketing, Management & Health Care Consulting, LLC

March 30th, 2016

Randar, Are you referring to a work environment culture or an ethnic culture? I am not sure that one can put either into a tool instrument. Much of this has to be assessed by conversation and observation from my perspective. Dr. Tuttle Regards, Chiquita T. Tuttle, MBA, PhDc PhD Candidate, Walden University School of Health Sciences Health Services Administration/Public Health Policy e-mail: Chiquita.Tuttle@waldenu.edu

Thomas Kaled Business Development Consultant @ thomas.kaled@gmail.com

March 30th, 2016

16 PF.

http://ipat.com/16pf-questionnaire/

Test, current key employees and match entrants.

Alison Lewis CEO/Creative Director

March 30th, 2016

I've found this difficult also. If you're looking to shortcut the interview process, it means knowing what expectations need to be communicated clearly. Even then, there is no 100% guarantee.

This gives me a chance to rant about what happened recently and in a big ugly horrible way. Hopefully others can learn from it. We worked with a very talented software engineer that is a nice guy and great personality and has good ideas. That's still the case, but he didn't let us test along the way or communicate when he couldn't do something or it wasn't working or reach out or ask for help with anything EVER. This is a clear sign of someone that works alone and not in a team, unfortunately, we didn't know things were bad till 1 WEEK before the presentation. We ended up with NOT ONE MVP feature working in front of a live audience. The only way this could have been prevented is by hiring a different person. The team was screwed b/c of this and I'm the one that brought him on, so it hurt my rep and my rep with my team and possibly the audience as well. My life is now damage control and the only person I can blame is me for bringing them on and not asking the right questions or setting the right tone. (well, I thought I did, but apparently not). This is a worse case scenario, but goes to hiring and picking teams.

My lesson from this: set the tone early, fire quickly, and have 2 backup hires with every hire. Jeff Mills (above) is on the right track here with being clear on your needs. If you are a start-up, fire them even if you don't have someone to hire right away. Better to ditch them then have an entire team brought down due to lack of team communication and effort. Now, let's see some more good responses!