Hiring for Cultural Fit: Why It’s Important & How to Do It

By Melissa Ripp
Drake & Company Staffing Specialists

Before I started my position as Marketing Coordinator at Drake & Company, I worked as a Marketing Manager for a small co-ed independent PreK through Grade 8 school in Lake Forest, Illinois. Last summer, my husband found a job in Madison, and we jumped at the opportunity to get back to Wisconsin.

I knew my team wouldn’t have a problem hiring a person that possessed the same kinds of skills I did—after all, there were plenty of marketing and communications professionals in the Chicagoland area. However, after sifting through over 80 resumes and sitting in on nearly a dozen in-person interviews, we just couldn’t find the right person.

Why was this hiring process so difficult? It certainly wasn’t the lack of qualified applicants. It was the fact that the school I worked for had a very specific culture. My team would need someone who had a considerable amount of experience in the marketing and communications realm; was able to juggle numerous requests from school administration, faculty, staff, and parents in the course of a day; was flexible and was comfortable with being interrupted fairly frequently; and could do all of the aforementioned tasks with a smile.

However, the ideal applicant would also need a specific set of “soft” skills. The ethos of the school also meant that this employee would need to be at once engaging, personable, and firm—whether they were dealing with a parent or a science teacher. They would also need to avoid office politics and gossip, pitch in with things that were not part of the job description, and not be a clock-watcher. And, the structure of the position meant a fair amount of autonomy with some things (content writing, social media), but not with other things (overall marketing strategy, ad budgets). We needed to find a person who would be able to produce and thrive with all of these factors at play.

I tell this story because reaching beyond skills and matching employee personalities to a company’s culture is a large part of what we do here at Drake. By getting to know our clients, we make sure that they can spend their time wisely, interviewing applicants who have the skills, references, drive, and personality to fit seamlessly into the day-to-day life of a company.

Merriam-Webster defines culture as “a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization”. An employee who fits your culture is an employee who will be happy and at home in your organization or business, which ultimately means greater job satisfaction, better job performance, and a lower attrition rate.

How do you hire based on your company’s culture? Here are a few tips:

  • Assess your organization’s culture.

    Asking yourself questions such as, “How does our team communicate? How do we get our work done? What are our meetings like?” will certainly lay the groundwork for thinking how your company operates and what kind of environment you offer to a potential applicant. This blog from The Bridgespan Group, a non-profit advisor group, offers a great list of questions to get you started.

  • Base interview questions on experiences that employee might have in your workplace.

    Offer the applicant an idea of the kinds of situations or questions they might encounter in the position, and analyze those responses to see if the applicant would be a good fit.

  • If possible, conduct a group interview:

    If the applicant will be working with a small team, have the group sit in on an interview. The team might think of questions the hiring manager might have missed, and it’s a great way to assess how this applicant might fit within the team framework.

  • Get the applicant out of the interview room:

    Whether it’s taking a tour of your facilities at the end of the interview, inviting them to an event your company is hosting, or in breaking the classic interview mold altogether by inviting an applicant to breakfast or lunch, providing an outlet for an applicant to be a bit more comfortable can be a great way to assess for cultural fit. What kinds of questions do they ask? Do they seem interested and excited about what they are seeing? How do they interact with other employees?

Successful companies are those who not only understand the culture of their organization, but also hire the employees that will be best positioned to thrive in that environment.

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Melissa RippMelissa Ripp is the former Marketing Coordinator at Drake & Company, a staffing firm based in Madison, Wisconsin. Drake & Company specializes in temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire administrative, clerical, and legal placements. For 36 years, Drake has reached beyond skills and qualifications to match candidate personalities with a company’s culture. You can find Melissa on Google+, and you can find Drake & Company on FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+, and Pinterest.

7 Misconceptions About Working With Staffing Firms

By Melissa Ripp
Marketing Coordinator, Drake & Company Staffing Specialists

At Drake & Company, applicants come to us through several channels. Sometimes we’ve worked to place them in a temporary or full-time position before. Other times, they come to us as a referral from someone we’ve placed. However, the majority of the applicants registering with us are new to the staffing industry. Whenever we speak with a new applicant, we are reminded of the many misconceptions there are regarding the staffing industry—and we thought we’d take the time to dispel them here with regard to Drake & Company:

If I register with a staffing agency, I’ll be there for about four hours between filling out paperwork, interviewing, and taking a bunch of tests.

That won’t happen at Drake & Company. We e-mail you our paperwork ahead of time, so you can fill it out at your convenience before you meet with us. Once you’re here, we ask you to take a moment to fill out reference forms (we need signed permission to contact each of your references) and we ask most applicants to take a short typing test. Any applicants who have applied for legal positions are also asked to take a spelling test. The entire process (reference paperwork, testing, and interview) takes an hour and a half at the very most. If you are interviewing for a specific position, a client might ask us to administer additional tests—but this typically doesn’t happen until a candidate is further along in the interview process.

Once I meet with a recruiter, I’m only being considered for the positions that he or she has open.

All of our Placement Consultants (PCs) work together at Drake, which means that once you register, you have six consultants with potential positions for you. It’s commonplace for consultants to recommend applicants they’ve interviewed for positions that other PCs are working on. We like to get to know our applicants, because we’ll all be working with you!

I’ll need to pay a fee to a staffing company when I register. Or, when I get a job, I’ll have to pay a portion of my salary to the staffing company, right?

Drake & Company does not charge a fee to our applicants in any way. Our fees are paid by the client that has asked us to fill the position. Working with us is completely free of charge for a candidate.

Staffing companies only offer temporary work, and I want a full-time position.

It often surprises people to learn that the majority of the positions Drake has open are typically direct hire positions or temp-to-hire positions. However, before you say “no” to checking out temporary positions, you might want to reconsider: According to statistics put together by the American Staffing Association, 88% of staffing employees say that temporary or contract work made them more employable, and 77% said it’s a good way to obtain a permanent job.

Staffing agencies don’t offer benefits.

Many staffing agencies offer benefits to temporary employees—but know that “benefits” may vary depending on what staffing company you choose to work with. After certain eligibility requirements are met at Drake & Company, you may qualify for holiday pay, vacation pay, 401k and profit sharing.

If I register with Drake & Company, that’s the only staffing firm I can register with.

We are aware that other firms to ask their applicants not to register with other companies, but we encourage it. We believe that every applicant has the right to work and apply for other positions and opportunities, and the only way to make that happen is to look at all the possibilities.

I want my job search to be confidential, so I better just stick to searching on my own.

You certainly can job search on your own, but you absolutely don’t have to. We’ve worked with applicants on confidential searches for many years, and we do promise complete confidentiality in all aspects of your job search. If you are searching for positions on your own, Drake & Company can help you with fine-tuning your resume (we have an in-house resume service) and offering practice tests so you can brush up on your skills. We can help in more ways than simply job placement!

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Melissa RippMelissa Ripp is the Marketing Coordinator at Drake & Company, a staffing firm based in Madison, Wisconsin. Drake & Company specializes in temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire administrative, clerical, and legal placements. For 36 years, Drake has reached beyond skills and qualifications to match candidate personalities with a company’s culture. You can find Melissa on Google+, and you can find Drake & Company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.

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