4 Ways To Showcase Your Company Culture During Interviews


Melissa Suzuno

This is a guest blog post by Melissa Suzuno, Content Marketing Manager at Parklet, the leading onboarding and employee experience solution. Follow the Parklet blog for insight into onboarding, company culture, and other topics related to employee engagement and happiness.

Going on a job interview is a perfect opportunity to put on your favorite houndstooth hat (figuratively, of course) and play detective.

Take a moment to observe your surroundings and you’ll soon discover how much you can learn about a company during the interview process. Do you get abandoned in the lobby for half an hour with nothing but an unironic “Hang in there” kitten poster to keep you company? Does anyone stop to chat with you or make sure that the hiring manager knows you’re there? What sorts of snippets of conversations do you overhear? And, most importantly, could you see yourself fitting in at a place like this?

If you’re the one doing the hiring, how much time have you spent thinking about things from the candidate’s perspective? It’s easy to get caught up in finding someone who fits all the requirements you’re looking to fill, but the interview process should go both ways.

What are you doing to ensure a candidate is a good fit for your company culture?

Cultural fit is not just a fluffy woo-woo topic. Psychologist Natalie Baumgartner attributes 89% of an employee’s success on the job to cultural fit. And in a 2014 study, 43% of companies said cultural fit was the single most determining factor when making a new hire.

And just in case those numbers aren’t convincing enough, there are some pretty hefty figures being tossed around when it comes to how much failed new hires cost their companies. According to a CareerBuilder study, a single bad hire can cost US companies more than $50,000. And others estimate that replacing a mid-level employee can cost upwards of 150% of their annual salary.

If you’re like a lot of employers, you may spend some time assessing whether someone is a good culture fit from your perspective. But what are you doing to actively share your culture with candidates?

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  1. Go directly to the source

Before a candidate comes in, make sure you have an accurate understanding of the culture at your company at large and in the specific department they’d be joining. Ask team members to choose a few words or phrases they’d use to describe the office environment and their team’s approach to work. Do they value collaboration and feedback? Or do most people work independently and chat about non-work topics during downtime? Is there a full calendar of social activities—or even just some sort of recurring extracurricular event like happy hour?

Think about the types of things that make your company a pleasant place to work, and be sure to communicate them to candidates. You can do this on your “About us” page, through your social media accounts, and in blog posts. Then, once someone progresses to the interview stage, you can cover these topics during their time at your office.

  1. Practice what you preach

Make the recruitment and interview process an opportunity to showcase your company’s core values. Is your company all about transparency? If so, don’t just talk about it during the interview. Be honest with a candidate about where they are in the recruitment process. Share your decision-making timeline—and stick to it.

Do you have a daily ritual like a stand-up meeting that includes everyone in the company or department? If it overlaps with a candidate’s interview time, have them participate, too. Instead of showing a highly curated (and unrealistic) view of your organization, give them insight into what it would really be like to work there.

  1. Involve a cross-section of employees

Don’t just limit a candidate to meeting their direct manager and other team members. If you’re trying to give true insight into your company culture, schedule in time with at least one or two people from other departments.

Encourage these employees to talk about the company culture and answer any questions the candidate has about the non-work related aspects of their job. Make it clear to the candidate that this portion of the interview is designed specifically for them to ask questions and learn about your company culture.

  1. Don’t neglect the details

When you have someone coming in for an interview, let the entire company know about it ahead of time. Make sure everyone knows what the protocol is for each step of the interview process. Do you greet the candidate and set them up in a conference room? Direct them to a specified waiting area? Who will escort them out when their interview ends? Having a system in place means that current employees can focus on the candidate instead of worrying about what to do with them.

Taking a candidate on a tour of the office might seem like an unnecessary step, but it gets them out of the small conference room and lets them see where they’d be spending the majority of their time. It also gives them the opportunity to do a little recon work—what kind of music (if any) do you have playing? What is the office décor and layout like? Is there a break area where high-stakes games of ping pong get played?

Candidates know that the interview process should be a two-way street, but they’re dealing with a lot—pressure to perform, meeting new people, and navigating an unfamiliar environment. Taking a few of these steps will give you a clearer idea of what your company is all about—and it’ll help candidates do the same.

Have any tips on sharing company culture during the interview stage? Let us know in the comments!

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Image courtesy of ticketmaster.co.uk

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Hiring Brand