Hiring for culture fit guide

A Guide to Hiring for Cultural Fit

At The Receptionist, we’re a bit obsessed with customer service and customer experience.

Everything we do comes back to solving a need for our customers, and we pride ourselves on offering Radical Support®.

But the only way we can provide that level of support for our customers consistently is to have an amazing team in place — each of whom understands how important our mission is and will happily jump in and help personally on customer issues.

We think that hiring for cultural fit is particularly important for bootstrapped companies like The Receptionist. We are committed to growing steadily, carefully, and deliberately in the right direction with customer satisfaction (not revenue) as our primary metric for success. At companies like ours, even one poor hiring choice can damage the customer-centric culture that we’ve worked so hard to build from the ground up.

That’s why we’ve made some changes over the years to improve the way we find the best people to join our team. We think these extra efforts have made a big difference in our ability to hire for cultural fit. Here are the practices that we can enthusiastically recommend to other businesses hiring for cultural fit.

Get clear on your values first.

It’s worth mentioning upfront that you can’t hire for cultural fit if you don’t know which values are central to your culture. At The Receptionist, we used the Entrepreneurial Operating System to really drill down to which values were the most important to us. We discuss that process here on our podcast.

Tend to the hiring funnel.

In the case of a sales funnel, it’s understood that in order to eventually land a sale, you must start by generating a big group of leads. You go in with the understanding that only a few will advance through each successive stage of the funnel to become future customers.

Similarly, if you want to find job candidates that you’re really excited about, you’ll need lots of quality applicants.

At The Receptionist, we decided a few years ago to start working with a firm that specializes in attracting this kind of big group of high-quality leads.

Scalability Solutions, located here in Denver, has been a big help in our hiring process. They work with our team to understand what we need out of each potential new hire, help us craft our job descriptions, and then help screen the hundreds of job applicants — which saves our own team hours of work. Plus, their services are structured in a way that incentivizes them to make sure that each hire stays for the long-term.

Ask good screening questions.

One of the best ways to select the most culturally aligned job candidates out of a large group of applicants (besides enlisting the help of a professional firm) is to ask thoughtful screening questions when they apply for a position.

Requiring these questions (in addition to the standard resume and cover letter) improves the odds that you’ll only get applications from people who take the process seriously.

Plus, reading applicants’ brief responses to screening questions can give you very valuable insights early on into whether the applicant understands what the job will demand and has the skills and talents to do it well.

Our Director of Sales Tom Foster mentioned in this podcast interview that when he applied for his current job at The Receptionist, he was impressed by these screening questions. Right away, he could tell that our company was invested in finding the right person — a far cry from trying to fill a seat as quickly as possible.

Watch job candidates in action.

At The Receptionist, all job candidates who reach a certain point in the interview process undergo a “customer experience simulation.”

They hop onto Intercom, the program we use to communicate with our customers and track their issues, and try to help “customers” via chat and email. Tom even got on the phone with our President, Andy Alsop, for a simulated sales call.

Tom was also given a chance to put together a brief “go to market” strategy on the spot and discuss a few things he would do to improve the way we make sales.

For most jobs and positions, hiring managers can find creative ways to give applicants the chance to “try out” for their roles demonstrating a little bit of what they can actually do before they’re hired.

As Tom said, this kind of experience in the hiring process can help a hiring manager analyze whether or not a job candidate is willing to be bold and is comfortable jumping in to their new role. Of course, it also gives potential employers very unique insights into how the candidate might handle similar situations once they’re actually on the job.

Get the whole team involved in the hiring decision-making.

This might not be possible with larger teams or teams that work more remotely. But at The Receptionist, we involve the entire team in the hiring process. In fact, we have each team member rate each job candidate on a scale of one to five on the factors of experience, teamwork, competency, and culture fit.

They can do that because toward the end of an applicant’s interview process at The Receptionist — subsequent to the initial screening and an interview with the leadership team — the applicant spends an entire day in the office and meets the rest of the people they will be working with.

Meeting face-to-face allows people to make a more meaningful connection, and it gives everyone an even better idea of how they would mesh together if working together in real life.

It also shows each existing team member that we value their opinion, and it makes them feel more invested in helping the hiring process (and new hires) succeed.

This step is time-consuming compared to the way other companies hire. However, we have found it to be well worth the effort. Plus, once we do make a final decision, that new hire feels like part of the team right away because they’ve already spent time with everyone. An intensive hiring process, in our opinion, cuts down on onboarding time later.

Take your time (and don’t be afraid to start over).

We’ve all heard the advice to “hire slow and fire fast,” and it’s absolutely true.

As The Receptionist President Andy Alsop mentioned in our podcast episode How We Hire, it can be frustrating to reach the end of the interview process and realize that you don’t have any applicants that you’re thrilled about .

Repeating the hiring process is expensive and time-consuming, and starting over can seem daunting — especially if you have pressing needs.

However, hiring the wrong person won’t help you meet urgent needs or get caught up. It more than likely will end up with you starting the interview process over again later, with even more time wasted on onboarding and training.

Hiring the wrong person is much more expensive long-term than starting an interview process over again. Click To Tweet

Start over, get help, get the rest of your team invested, and pay more attention to the top of your hiring funnel. The extra effort will be well worth it.

At The Receptionist, we’re steadily growing and are always looking for star players to join our team. If you think you might be a good fit for our culture, check out our careers page and get in touch with us.

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