Today, most organizations strive to hire applicants with the kind of personality that would work best with their internal culture.
In fact, the desire to locate an applicant with ‘cultural fit’ often supersedes the desire to find someone with the best technical skills. If the abilities in question can be mastered on the job it helps to have a team player.
The shift away from proficiency may sound extreme; however, it adds up when you think about how an intelligent professional can grasp new technical abilities, yet struggle to become an outside-the-box thinker who can develop innovative solutions.
If your organization is looking to put more emphasis on cultural fit, consider the following tips to identify the types of candidates you are seeking.
Know thy Company Culture
Screening for a job without knowing your company culture would be pointless. Regardless of how well you think you know your company, it’s never a bad idea to reacquaint yourself with company values. You should also review the latest signature successes and identify how top-performers personify corporate culture.
Screening cover letters and resumes
When reviewing application materials, you should be reading between the lines for clues about cultural fit. Pay special attention to how a candidate uses language. Do they use language that is safe or boring? Is their writing over the top and flamboyant? Is it conversational or intellectual? How a person chooses to present themself on the written page can tell you a lot about their personality, and you can consider this information in the context of the personality type you are seeking.
Finally, you should be looking for anything on resumes and cover letters that jumps out as unique. Do they have any unique professional skills or experience? Perhaps, they spent a semester studying in China or worked at NASA for a few years. A unique past shows that a candidate is open-minded and willing to take risks.
In the interview
While a cover letter and resume can offer some hints as to a candidate’s personality, the best way to find out what a candidate is like is to speak with them face to face.
Interview questions meant to learn something about a candidate’s personality should be open-ended – posing either a hypothetical situation or asking how the person acted in a certain real-life situation. For example, you could ask the applicant how they might try to convince to change their work habits.
Personality-oriented interview questions should also address anything that popped out on their resume or cover letter. Ask about that NASA job or semester studying abroad.
During the interview, it is important to allow the candidate to express themselves as naturally as possible. Try to get them relaxed and allow them to truly reveal themselves, so you can make the most informed decision around their personality.