Cultural Fit – The Rise And Fall Of The “Traditional” Interview

You have reviewed the resume, the candidate has all of the proper qualifications and experience, you bring them in for an interview and ask all of the traditional questions, give them a psychometric test, and possibly even test their actual skills. A month goes by and THEN THE TRUTH COMES OUT. They are not even nearly performing at your expectation. And worse, they are bringing others in the team down too. You’ve already invested in their orientation training, possibly even housing, so what now, fire them and start over? If this cultural incompatibility is not caught in the interview, after they are hired you might as well burn money and more importantly – time.

People lie, sometimes even to themselves which makes them even more convincing that, “they”, as a new employee, will truly add value to, and even be happy working in, your organisation. So what questions would you ask to identify the right people?

If you type the phrase “most asked interview questions” in Google, you will get over 4.4M results that help others in preparing to win you over. Others don’t bother, they have been on so many interviews, they just know what you are looking for, and tell you.

And what about psychometric tests? Well, anyone (well anyone reasonably intelligent) that has taken one before will be able to skew the results to suit the job description. So are there interview questions or tests that can give you greater insights into the real performance of an individual once he/she gets into your organisation?

Well, NO!

But the quest to find the “right” employee with the right is not lost. The real question is not what to ask in an interview, but what to ask before the selection process even begins so you know what to really look for in the interview. Getting the right employee for your organisation goes beyond job description and skill, and even “personality”, it comes down to the very essence of your organisation and its culture. It is a candidates “Cultural Fit”

To identify Cultural fit, three questions should be asked: “What type of culture does your organisation want to have?”, “What type of culture doe it actually have?”, and “What are the values, communication processes, and emotional drives a new employee should have to fit in the culture and help it to Evolve?”

With this in mind the interviewer is more prepared to identify the nuances of an employee’s “Cultural Fit”. Each individual introduced into an organisation reacts to its culture. Those reactions will perpetuate it, decline it, or possibly evolve it. So it become essential to understand your organisation’s culture before you even begin.

Culture can be summed up as a recipe for the way your organisation functions. Some recipes create lots of volume but have little taste, others may be too spicy, and yet others may taste good but be tough and difficult to chew. And still, many recipes may have the same ingredients but in different measures. Some of the key factors in an organisation’s recipe are: measure of innovation, measure of blame, measure of empowerment, measure of structure, measure of cooperation and measure of personal development within the organisation.

The CCEE (Corporate Culture Evolution Evaluation), a free tool provided by Directive Communication International, can assist in discovering the current level of culture evolution an organisation is at.

So let’s say you already have an idea of what recipe your organisation has, and let’s say you even know what ingredients would make it better. So now you are better equipped to make better hiring choices. But you still need to get passed the BS that candidates will feed you.

So what do you really need to know? Well of course the first thing will be if they actually possess enough of the specific hard skill required to do the job. That’s the easy part. The rest requires a bit more interpretation on the part of the interviewer. You need to know how that person will fit into your corporate culture and their specific job, how they will react to the people they work with and make them feel, how the people they work with will react to them and how that will affect their personal performance, what will motivate them and what will cause them to lose interest, how they process information and how that will complement or hinder effectiveness with the people they work with, how they will react to pressure within the cultural mechanism and how they will demonstrate leadership.

But this article is not about the questions, it is about the interpretation on an individual and how they will affect your organisation, and we don’t even think that you should ask questions, well, not the traditional ones anyway to find the truth. We think you should play games instead!

Interviewers who are aware of Directive Communication Psychology, use a specially designed picture deck called Colored Brain Communication cards for one of 3 games they play with potential candidates. The cards are designed to elicit subconscious thoughts, emotions and even lost memories associated with a particular topic, the trick, is not using a topic that is typically associated with a job. For example, one of the scenarios often presented is that the candidate has just won US$5,000,000. They are then asked to choose 5 cards that best represent what they would do with the money. When they look through the cards, the interviewer notices some of the communication processes unique to that individual (this is known as the Colored Brain model) which also identify possible work processes. The types of cards that are chosen, also cross referenced with the process of choosing the cards, identify perception and communication processes which also indicate who they will work well with and who they will have conflict with, and finally the explanations of what each card means identifies the emotional drives and motivations of a candidate as well as the type of job they would excel in and the type of job that they would underperform in. And all this in about 5 minutes.

According to Ong Hong Him, HR expert and certified Directive Communication psychology practitioner in Singapore, “While this is only one component of this new method in interview techniques, it demonstrates the trend away from the “traditional” interview. Why? Because “cultural fit” is the new revolution in selecting the right employee. And there are even self contained kits for any interviewer to effectively learn from which makes it easy to know your candidate in ways never realized before.”

Ong is not alone, many organisations like MayBank, Petronas, American Express, Royal Bank of Saudi Arabia, Samsung, and the State of Nevada Police force are already using this method to improve their corporate culture from its very roots, selection.