Interviewing for Culture Fit – All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

I am always being asked about the hiring process at Beryl and how we recruit and screen for culture.  Compassion is the number one competency that we look for.  This can be a challenge since there isn’t a test that magically tells us how compassionate a person is.  Beryl has an extensive recruiting process that has been developed over the years.  Usually, I am the last person to interview a candidate.  I can’t imagine what candidates think when they hear that they are interviewing with “The Queen of Fun and Laughter”!  I do know that most of them assume that they have to come in here ready to cheer in a pep rally or run through the hallway with their hair on fire.  True, I do love those candidates but that is not what I am looking for in an interview.

In my short time in an interview I am looking for the true heart of a person.  I want to know what their values are.  I want to know how they will fit in with the Beryl values and caring culture.  The one question that I always start with is, “Without using the words ‘culture’ or ‘people’ tell me why you want to work here”?  I don’t want to hear a response that they have concocted based on what they think I want to hear, which is probably what most of them came up with the night before.  I want to really know why they want to work at Beryl.  Why Beryl?  After the initial shock wears off from this question, I usually get a more honest and in depth answer as to what attracted them to us in the first place.  I then tell the candidate what our five core values are.  I ask them to tell me the one they relate to the most and a time that it was compromised in another position.  You can see where I am going here.  I don’t ask for them to tell me a time that they turned an angry customer into a happy one.  Sure that question is fine, but it isn’t going to show you the integrity of the person.  Questions that strike an emotional chord will bring out more valuable clues about how someone thinks when it comes to others.  Another favorite at Beryl is, “Tell me about a time that you helped someone although you didn’t necessarily think they deserved it”.

Years ago, five to be exact, a gentleman walked in here to interview with me for a training manager position.  It was mid-December and he strolled in wearing a Santa Claus Hawaiian shirt and shorts.  His hair and beard were similar to Santa himself so he was quite the funny sight to see.  He told me that he thought he’d just go for it and show me the true side of himself. (Now keep in mind this was his 7th interview in the process!  I don’t recommend this for a first interview!)  I knew then that he would be a perfect fit.  Not because he wore a funny costume and had the guts to do it, but because it was genuinely who he was.  He wasn’t trying to pretend to be someone he wasn’t.  It was very real.  Bob is still here and he still makes a huge impact in our culture and community outreach efforts.

The moral of this story is that you must find the true character of a candidate during the interview process with questions that fit the culture of your organization.  There are times where the character is one that you don’t want to hire and you find that out much too late.  Now that is a whole other blog!

Editors Note: For the past 12 years Lara Morrow has been The Queen of Fun & Laughter at The Beryl Companies, a title accidentally appointed due to her wacky personality.  She spearheads their internal communication, recognition, employee relations, leadership training and culture strategy. Her efforts have led to Beryl being recognized nine different times as a best place to work including being voted the #2 Best Medium Sized Company to work for in America. She is a co-author of Smile Guide, Employee Perspectives on Culture, Loyalty and Profit. After hours, Lara “releases steam” through her passion for cooking, blogging and reviewing local restaurants.



About Marisa

Marisa Keegan is a leadership coach, trainer, and HR consultant for quickly growing organizations who are passionate about strengthening their employees, their brand, and their culture. She has helped lead the HR, culture, and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. She is an author at Fistful of Talent and Culture Fanatics. Marisa has her Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology and currently lives with her husband and twin boys in Richmond, Virginia.
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1 Response to Interviewing for Culture Fit – All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

  1. Pingback: Employee Happiness Good for Profits | Delivering Happiness at Work

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