SmartRecruiters Blog

Don’t Hire Without The HR Culture Interview

What if I told you that the way you are hiring is all wrong? And instead of focusing on experience, skills, and degrees you need to focus on “fit.” Not fit in the way it’s been abused –whenever we don’t like someone but have no real reason not to hire them, we throw out the old “fit” excuse. I’m talking about a “culture fit.” Before you can hire for culture fit, you have to define your culture.

Sorry, I can’t tell you what good culture fit is, it’s based on your core values – you have to figure out what drives your business and separates you from the competition. However I can tell you that your core values should not be discriminatory against anyone based on age, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, sexual preference, weight, or height.

Here are some examples of poor cultural fit. For instance if you are a startup company and you have a social media culture, it’s probably not a good idea to hire an individual that does not value the power of social media. Let’s flip that scenario, if you are traditional company and you don’t believe in all this social media stuff, then hiring talent that likes to tweet about the workplace is not the best fit for you. Either way, getting HR involved in the interview process creates a more well rounded and collaborative hiring process.

Hire Culture

One of today’s most popular CEOs is Tony Hsieh of Zappos! (Quick background – Zappos! Is an online apparel company with a great company culture which has grown profits to over $1 billion dollars)  Zappos! has 10 core values in which they have incorporated into their hiring process and interview questions– you can read about that in an article titled “How Zappos! Infuses Culture Using Core Values” published via the Harvard Business Review written by Tony Hsieh himself.

One of the core values is “Be Humble” and they consider it to be vital to their success. It’s part of the culture to have a humble attitude and according to that article “someone who is highly egotistical would not be a good fit for Zappos!”

Here’s another example of hiring for cultural fit, Federal Express is headquartered in Memphis, TN. I have family members who work there. One of FedEx’s managerial  core values is to be a “servant leader.” FedEx believes that their managers/leaders must have an attitude of “service” as it relates to managing their associates. Service is part of their culture – in order to deliver world class services to customers all over the globe, the leaders must be willing to serve.

There you have it, two industry leaders which incorporate culture into their hiring processes. They are far from the only companies to use culture match as core hiring value. And it’s a smart thing to do. According to a study companies that hire for culture have employees that:

  • Have greater job satisfaction,
  • Identify more with the company,
  • Were more likely to stay with the company,
  • Show superior job performance (Kristof –Brown)

You may be thinking, “Well this is nothing new!” – uh, it kinda is. Considering that most interview questions are behavior or situational questions based on past performance experiences instead of focusing on the core values that reflect the company’s culture.

It goes without saying that you need intelligent workers who can creatively and ethically resolve problems – but core values can’t be taught, they are inherently within you and should be inherent your interview process. Collaborate with Human Resources to shape the recruiting process and interview questions that evaluated talent based on how well they exemplify and fit your cultural values.


chris fieldsChris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who also helps job seekers write great resumes and blogs. His work can be found at & Modified Photo Credit Mullen & IamFedEx.

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What companies do you think make the best hires for culture?


Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.