Jun 06, 2018

Building a Winning Culture through Structured Interviewing

Alexandra Moore

Alexandra Moore

Building a Winning Culture through Structured Interviewing

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at Greenhouse OPEN, a conference attended by 1,000+ Talent Leaders that was hosted by Credera’s Applicant Tracking System provider, Greenhouse. When we rolled out their ATS, we wanted to take full advantage of the way Greenhouse has their system set up to promote Structured Interviewing. According to Google’s People Operations team, “Structured interviewing simply means using the same interviewing methods to assess candidates applying for the same job.”

Credera believes that structuring all interviews is important – not only does applying this methodology help eliminate bias in interviews and promote a fair, consistent experience for all candidates… if done correctly: it can be predictive of candidate performance, even for jobs with less structure. We found that structuring interviews around the hard and soft skills that consultants need to possess to be successful at Credera was challenging but doable. Once we created our structured interviewing framework for those skill-sets, we realized it was time to tackle structuring our firm’s culture interview.

The Culture Interview

Chances are, most companies have their own version of a culture interview. Beyond your company’s product or service, your culture is often the secret sauce that makes your company special. Your culture retains great employees AND it motivates candidates to want to join your company. No matter how strong a candidate performs on the skills and role expectations portions of your interview process, if they aren’t aligned with your culture – there will likely be a disconnect once they are hired. Not only does this mean the employee will have trouble assimilating to the culture… he or she could be a “bad seed” for the culture and hinder your company’s growth or success. So, many companies either have culture-related questions peppered into their interviews throughout the process, or they have an entire interview dedicated to assessing culture fit. That’s what Credera had in place, but once we analyzed the interview – we realized there was nothing structured about it, nor did it help us determine whether or not a candidate was going to add to our company’s culture and see success at our firm.

That’s when we realized: interviewing for culture fit is no longer enough. We needed to completely overhaul this interview, and we needed to come up with a rubric for assessing candidates for culture add – to affirm they would be successful at our firm and to promote the addition of new perspectives that would help our firm continue to evolve and grow.

Culture Add vs. Culture Fit

Culture adds align with your company’s culture, and they also bring diverse experiences that will challenge the way things are done for the better. According to organizational psychologist Adam Grant, “if you only hire people who fit your values and business model, you’re going to end up breeding groupthink and losing diversity of thought.” Culture adds seed a resilient culture because they have “the will and skill to think differently”, so proactively infusing them into the culture is vital for growth. If you do this well, you’ll be positioned to continue innovating – on a product, technology, and even executive level.

Keeping this in mind, Credera created a new culturally-focused interview that assesses a candidate’s alignment with our values and the behavioral traits that successful consultants at Credera possess. This interview is required for every candidate that interviews with our firm because we believe every single person we hire has the ability to bring their unique background to our firm and influence change.

How to Build a Winning Culture

Credera took our four core values (Professionalism, Excellence, Humility, and Integrity) and identified eight behavioral traits to be evaluated in this interview. Since we applied structured interviewing to our culturally-focused interview, we’ve seen a very high offer rate for all candidates who pass this interview. As these candidates join the firm and start to go through our performance review cycle, we are excited to see how they do so we can confirm that applying structured interviewing to this interview indeed helps predict performance.

Are we convinced we’ve mastered culturally-focused interviewing? Absolutely not. However, we are confident we’ve made great strides towards building a winning culture – which we know needs to be constantly evolving so we can deliver the most innovative solutions for our clients. Interested in learning more so you can stay ahead of the game in your industry? Please feel free to contact us – we would love to help you in this area.

For more on my speaking session and applying structured interviewing to your company’s culture interview, feel free to read SHRM’s coverage of my presentation: Ditch the Beer Test and Start Hiring For Culture Add

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