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Identify corporate cultural-fit factors.

Once you’ve fully described the qualities, preferences, and skills you want in a candidate, think about cultural fit. Your company has characteristics specific to it that will make or break a candidate’s cultural fit. Not every organization is perfect for every person—and vice versa.

Think about your company’s factors as you continue preparing your job analysis worksheet. People choose to work for companies for a variety of reasons, some of which have little to do with the technical work of the specific job.

Possible company-fit factors appear in Table 2-2, below.

Table 2-2: Company-Fit Factors.

Company Fit-Factors

Preference Possibilities


Some candidates like offices with doors so they can have discussions with others without disturbing their colleagues. Some candidates prefer cubicles or a bullpen office, where people are accessible.

Career growth paths

Candidates may care about upward mobility in your company after they learn about your products and produce good results for you. If your company has not yet developed a technical or managerial job ladder, suggest that your Human Resources or Personnel staff do so now. Be ready to explain to a candidate your company's growth paths. Some people like to work where they can acquire more skills, prove themselves valuable, and then change roles to the next phase of their career at the same company. If this is beyond your scope or influence, ask your boss what to say to candidates.

Start-up or established

Some candidates only work for start-ups. Some only work for established companies.

Your products

Some people won't work for a company that produces tobacco products or munitions or parts that end up in weapons. Some people don't care about the product as long as it has a GUI or a scheduler or a compiler, for example. Some people only care about working in a specific industry, or on cutting-edge technical products, on consumer products, on end-user products, or on technical-user products.

Industry leadership

Some candidates like to work for industry leaders, or companies they think will be industry leaders soon.

Training policy

Some candidates look for reimbursement for education or other training opportunities.

Competing local employers

If you are one of only a few employers in a small town, it may be that none of these factors weigh as heavily for a candidate as the possibility of steady employment.

Company's profitability

Some people like to work for companies that are floundering because they enjoy the challenge of turning a company around. Some people prefer to work for a company that has a healthy cash flow and provides more security.

Company growth

Many candidates look for positive growth because there is the assumption their jobs will grow and they will continue to be paid. If the company's growth is stalled or negative, you can attract candidates who pride themselves on their ability to come into a negative situation and make it positive. Some candidates will be oblivious.

Cash flow

If the company is wealthy, candidates may assume that the company will buy necessary tools and provide training.

Recent layoffs

Some candidates will not interview at a company that's recently laid off large numbers of employees. Some candidates like the idea of a fresh start.

Recent acquisition or merger

Some candidates see acquisitions and mergers as a time of reduced productivity and increased drudgery. Others see them as a time of opportunity.

Overall corporate culture

Some cultures are dynamic and appear chaotic. Other cultures are calmer and more relaxed. Some candidates choose to work for a company because the projects and the organization are everchanging. Others choose to work for a competing company because the products and organizational structure is stable.

It’s common among technical testers and support staff to want to move into development. I’ve hired people into testing or support, trained them for six months, and then let them move on. Other hiring managers want a guarantee that the employee will be in their group for twelve or even eighteen months. As a seasoned hiring manager, I’m willing to live with having an employee in my group for fewer months because I’ve had the chance to train the employee and I can use him or her to help me interview for a replacement. Whatever your position is, make sure you can articulate it, and that your position matches your company’s policy on job changes.

One company’s employment policy may be attractive to some candidates and repulsive to others. I once worked for a company that would not permit smoking anywhere on its premises. I found this attractive, but the smokers I phone-screened did not appreciate the policy.

Some companies expect their employees to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, such as raising money for charitable organizations, weekend sales meetings, social events, and so on. Candidates who find these activities exciting, and view them as a positive use of their time, are an appropriate fit for those companies. Candidates who do not want to participate in these extra-corporate activities are not a good fit. Avoid wasting your time interviewing people who aren’t a good cultural fit, especially if the lack of fit is a misalignment of cultural values regarding where employees should spend their time.

If a candidate’s success hinges on these factors, then remember to ask questions about these specific cultural factors during the phone-screen and also during the interview. See Chapter 7, “Developing Interview Questions and Techniques,” for suggestions.

Define the corporate cultural-fit factors so that you can use them in a job advertisement. You’ll have more success attracting the most suitable candidates if you identify such factors right at the start. Even if you don’t want to use the factors in an ad, being aware of the cultural-fit factors will help you answer candidates’ questions about the company.

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