“I hire for cultural fit. It’s the most important thing to me. How do I test for that?”
Every one of my clients talks about the importance of organizational cultural fit when they add new BD and marketing professionals into their teams. It is one of the first things they tell me when we talk about a potential hire.
Consideration for an organizational cultural fit is one of the hardest pieces to be successful on when hiring a BD or marketing professional; or, in fact, any professional. What exactly is cultural fit and how do you successfully hire a professional who is culturally aligned to your firm?
Cultural fit is hard to define. At its core, it’s about ensuring all of your professionals share the same beliefs and values that your firm and leadership have established; put simply, it’s “the way things get done around here”. In some firms, it means hiring entrepreneurial professionals in an environment that encourages creativity and risk-taking. In some firms, it means hiring professionals who thrive on competition in a driven and hierarchical environment. In some firms, it means hiring professionals with a more formal and conservative style in a firm where convention and tradition is key. Importantly, each firm is different, so each hire will be different.
Before we address “what” to ask, the “how” is key. Adjusting how you interview (see my previous blog on this topic) and really doing away with an overly formal process allows you and your candidate the opportunity to speak, listen and share. People are unique individuals who have points of view, stories to tell, a particular type of sense of humor, and different perspectives to relate on work and life. Getting into these things allows you to really see what a person is like. The technical questions need to be asked, of course. But then cultural questions - like these below - help you consider whether you are culturally aligned:
Kate Harry Shipham is the Principal of KHS People LLC, an executive search firm for BD and marketing people in professional services firms. Kate has done search and recruiting for nine years and prior to that was an attorney.