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How to Hire Employees Who Fit Your Company Culture

She’s got all the skills to fill the available position at your company — but she might demand a salary beyond your budget. He’s affordable, but might not be able to handle the fast-paced work environment.

Who do you give the job to?

For small businesses, every single hire is a critical decision. And the wrong fit can waste valuable time and resources.

Keep in mind that you’re not just hiring an employee — you’re hiring a person. You want to be sure that, on top of their qualifications, this candidate is someone you and your team will want to work with every day. The person you hire should be able to easily transition into their new role because they share the same professional ideals and work ethic of your current employees.

There are steps that small businesses can take throughout the hiring process to ensure that they find the right person for the job at the right time. Here are some suggestions for framing your hiring practices to target what and who you’re looking for.

Before the interview

The first step to a successful hire is a detailed, thorough definition of the needs that hire is going to fill. However, making sure you include essential skills, experience and qualities that the candidate needs to demonstrate in order to function efficiently is just the beginning.

Establish “must-have” personality and behavioral traits, and put those at the top of the list. For example, your company may be full of innovative, curious people who are constantly inventing new ways to improve the business.

So, it may be important to you for the new hire to be inquisitive and energetic rather than expertly skilled in your industry. A prioritized list of these types of qualifications will help differentiate candidates and keep you focused in the interview and evaluation process.

During the interview

While you’re meeting with a candidate face-to-face, start to look for signs that they’ll fit into your team. If you conduct your interview via webcam on Skype or FaceTime, this might be a little more difficult. And if it’s a phone interview, all you’ll have to go on is the candidate’s answers and tone of voice.

The indicators that this candidate will be a good fit (or not) will vary depending on what’s important to your business. You may work in an on-demand industry, where priorities and needs change by the hour.

In this case, you’ll probably want someone who can think on their feet. The interview is a great way to test their ability to do this by asking unique questions that force the applicant to give a fresh, unrehearsed response.

Some “out of the box” questions you can ask to evaluate culture fit might include:

  • What would be the title of your biography?
  • Who do you admire most and why?
  • What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken professionally? Why? What was the outcome?
  • Have you ever been on a team at work that struggled with interpersonal conflicts and differing opinions? Did you help overcome those issues? How? What were the results?

But keep in mind that this is a two-way street. You don’t want your company’s culture to be a big secret, so describe to the potential hire exactly the type of person you’re looking for. This helps attract people who will be successful at your company and weed out those who may not be the right fit.

After the interview

An uncomfortable culture fit can dampen even the brightest of skills and qualifications. This is challenging to quantify, but your intuition in the interview and during the evaluation process can help you decide if the candidate will fit or evolve into your business culture.

After the interview, take a few concrete notes not only on their statements, but on your own responses to their energy and personality. A hire with the right skills that “gets” your business will be a valuable asset.

And as you improve your hiring process, you’ll continue building a strong, cooperative company culture that’s full of highly effective people you enjoy working with.

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