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Company CultureSkills and qualifications are important, but they’re not all that goes into making the perfect job candidate. A new hire could have several impressive degrees and many years of professional successes and experience, but if he or she isn’t a good fit for the company culture, it isn’t going to work out.

Each new employee can potentially change the company’s culture through the influence of his or her own values and business practices. If you want your company culture to remain strong — and your new employee to feel happy and satisfied in the position — then you need to make sure that his or her values align as closely as possible with the company’s. However, it’s not always easy to assess whether or not a candidate is going to fit in with your company culture during a brief interview process.

First, you need to have a clear idea of what kind of culture exists at your company and promote your company on the basis of that culture. Then, you can determine what personal characteristics and traits you’re looking for in a candidate, before taking steps to vet candidates for those traits.

1. What Kind of Culture Does Your Company Have?

Does your company value fun and camaraderie, or are you more formal? How do colleagues in the office have fun together? What are meetings like? How do employees at your organization work — collaboratively, or individually? How are the offices laid out? Do coworkers generally get along or does everyone keep to him or herself?

What forms of communication are most prevalent at your company? How are decisions made? What kinds of people thrive at the company? How is the organization structured? Does your company allow flex scheduling or telecommuting? How do people in the office dress?

The answers to these and other questions will help you learn exactly what kind of company culture you’re cultivating, if you weren’t already sure.

2. Make the Company Culture a Selling Point for Job Candidates

One easy way to attract job candidates who will fit in well at your company is to talk up the company culture and make it a big selling point for potential new hires. People on the job market seek out companies they think they’d enjoy working for.

Use Twitter, Facebook, your company blog, LinkedIn, and YouTube to promote your company’s culture to potential job applications. Upload recruitment videos to YouTube, engage with job candidates and customers on Twitter, share photos of your company’s social get-togethers on Facebook.

3. Decide What You’re Looking for in a Candidate

If you want your company culture to remain largely unchanged by the presence of the new hire, you’ll need to look for someone who’s a good fit for your company culture. Decide what personal traits and qualities you’d like in a candidate. Should he or she be fun-loving? Serious? Collaborative? Independent? What communication and work styles do you need from a new hire?

Remember that when you recruit new candidates, you’re not looking to guarantee that everyone in your office is a carbon copy of one another. This isn’t a science fiction novel; you can’t hire a bunch of clones, and you wouldn’t want to. Each of your employees should bring a unique and complementary set of strengths and weaknesses to the table that can help keep company culture balanced. For example, if one employee has great creative vision but lackluster communication skills, you may want to consider hiring a less visionary person who knows how to talk to people.

Company Culture4. Assess Each Candidate’s Personality and Character

It’s hard to really get a firm grasp of a job candidate’s personality and character, because people don’t generally put things like “nice to waitresses, trustworthy, good sense of humor” on a resume. Even if they did, some of them would be lying.

You can vet candidates for education, qualifications, and experience before they every step foot in an interviewing room. While you should definitely talk about the candidate’s professional history during the interview, also ask questions that help you get a sense of the person’s character, like:

  • What do you do for fun?
  • What was your favorite job and why?
  • What helps you get along with a co-worker?
  • What did you like the most about your last workplace?
  • What did you not like about your last workplace?

Make sure that as many people as possible in your organization interact with the candidate and report back to you — if he or she is rude or dismissive to lower-level employees, or to customer service staff at a lunch meeting, you may want to reconsider. Look for opportunities to spend time with the candidate in a less formal setting, like lunch, or invite him or her to sit in on a meeting so you can get a better grasp of his or her behavior.

Many candidates won’t show off personality traits like a sense of humor, kindness, or flexibility during a job interview, because it’s difficult to display those traits in that setting. A less formal setting will let your candidate’s hidden character traits shine.

It’s not always easy to tell whether a job candidate will be a good fit for your company culture, but it’s a crucial part of the hiring process nevertheless. If you hire a candidate who doesn’t fit in at your organization, he or she won’t be happy — and neither will you.

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