Interview for fit with the Purpose
Are you hiring people who want to make their contribution to society through the work that you do? Are they passionate about the Purpose of your organization? It’s easier to retain employees who are passionate about their organization’s Purpose.
In your interview process, try to discover whether or not your organization’s Purpose is a match for each candidate you interview. Consider asking these questions:
- What causes matter to you?
- What issues are you drawn to and personally care about?
- What do you aspire to do in your life through your work?
- Why do you want to work in this industry?
Through these questions, discover if the applicant finds your organization’s work a personally meaningful contribution to society. Is this a cause that the applicant really cares about? Is the person a fit with the Purpose of the organization?
Be sure that you include behavioral interview questions. These are questions that ask “How did you…” rather than “How would you….” The goal of a behavioral interview question is to determine if the applicant has exhibited the behaviors you seek—not whether the person can just talk about how they hypothetically would exhibit the behaviors. Behavioral interview questions might also start with the words: “Tell me about a time when…,” or “Give me an example of a time when…,” or “Describe a situation when….” In a behavioral interview question, the applicant will explain a specific situation from a real life experience, their actions and the outcome. You are not looking for hypothetical responses; instead, you want real examples.
Some behavioral interview questions to evaluate whether the Purpose of the organization is meaningful to the applicant:
- Have you worked in an organization where you felt that the work of the company was meaningful to you? If yes, explain.
- Describe an event or experience in your life that has driven you to care about the work that we do.
With an understanding of the organization’s Philosophy and Priorities, create interview questions that evaluate the alignment of an applicant’s values with the organization’s values. Questions to reveal a candidate’s values and fit might be:
- Describe the kind of work environment you prefer.
- Have you worked in an organization where the values important at the company were also values important to you? If yes, explain.
- In what ways do you think you are a fit with the values of our culture?
- Why do you want to work for us rather than our competitors?
Next, ask questions to determine if the candidate has exhibited in past situations the values of the organization—the Philosophy and Priorities. These behavioral interview questions help discover if the applicant has lived the values of the organization.
Examples of these types of questions, listed by values are as follows:
- Caring: Would you say you are more or less caring than the average person? Can you give an example?
- Professionalism: How would you describe professionalism? Describe a situation in the past where you exhibited professionalism in your work.
- Diversity: Give an example of how you worked to foster diversity in your workplace.
- Collaboration: Tell me about a time when you collaborated with others outside of your work group.
- Customer service: Give an example of how you handled an unhappy customer.
- Safety: Describe a situation when you demonstrated the importance of safety in your job.
Tailor your questions to specific issues that are common to your organization. The more tailored the question is to your culture, the better opportunity you will have to get a response that has not been pre-planned by the applicant.
Interview questions should also focus on how the applicant would apply the organization’s values in their future job at the company. For example, if cost control is one of the organization’s values, then you might ask applicants how they would decrease costs in their new job. If collaboration is one of the organization’s values, another question might be: How will you enhance collaboration in your work to make it better than it is today? If the culture values safety, be sure to get applicants’ ideas on how they would incorporate a greater focus on safety in their new job. You want to hire people who can make a contribution to the organization’s culture by offering new and interesting ways to more effectively live the culture each day. An interview question might focus on how the applicant has strengthened the culture of a previous employer.
Give applicants an opportunity to ask questions so they understand the culture and what is valued. Also, observe whether or not the applicant is knowledgeable about the company. Is the applicant only screening the job or is the applicant also screening the organization, as well? Those applicants who have taken the time to understand the organization are better candidates because they are looking for a broader fit.
Onsite visits give an opportunity to observe an applicant’s behavior. For example, at Southwest Airlines, they want to hire people who naturally have that warm, friendly service attitude. During group interviews of flight attendants, applicants give three-minute speeches about themselves in front of about 50 people. Managers are watching the audience as closely as the speaker. Candidates who pay attention pass the test; those who seem bored or distracted do not pass. Seeing how recruits interact with people helps them hire individuals who naturally will keep their customers happy. Southwest looks for people with the right “spirit,” and will hire for attitude—their sense of humor and positive attitude—and train for skills.
The hiring process should be a team effort. Those who will be working regularly with the candidate should be included in the interview process. Provide a variety of interview settings—like a breakfast, lunch or dinner—to determine if the applicant demonstrates the values that the organization seeks.
If it can be arranged, set up a way for the candidate to role play the job they would be performing. This opportunity can help the candidate get a real preview of the work and allow the company to assess the applicant.
Once you align your hiring practices with the Core Culture, you are ready to screen applicants for culture fit. Where there is synchrony between the individual and the culture of the company, there will be a greater likelihood that the person will feel connected to the company and want to stay with it.
[For continuation of Hiring for Culture Fit discussion, read the next post on topic: Part 7]