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It’s relatively easy to determine if job candidates have the specific skills and experience you’re looking for. But will they fit in, once you hire them? Your company cannot be productive and successful unless people can work well together. But while cultural fit is essential, it is also more difficult to ascertain. In many ways, cultural fit is intangible. However there are indicators you can look for to find the best personal as well as professional match.

At our core, each of us is essentially an introvert or an extrovert. Introverts tend to prefer quieter working environments. Their own office or cubicle. Working on their own. Extroverts are outgoing, so they’re happy to work in a chaotic atmosphere or an open space without walls or other barriers. Will your candidate be comfortable in your company’s physical setting? And with your working style?

But of course each individual is more complex than a simple introvert vs. extrovert designation. We all come in shades of gray. And the one thing you want to avoid most is hiring the same person over and over again. Diversity brings critical differences in background, perspective and approaches to problem-solving that become the lifeblood of your organization. If no one is thinking differently, creativity and innovation are impossible.

So you don’t want to confuse cultural fit with uniformity.

Who is your company, culturally speaking?

Job-hunters are looking for a great fit, just as you are. Make discussion of your organizational culture part of the interviewing process, by describing your values, practices and the kind of person you’re seeking. Ask about their priorities and motivators.

Second interviews are very revealing.

One of the most effective ways to learn if someone will be a good fit is to let prospective co-workers interview your finalists. Top candidates come into interviews with you very well-prepared, so even a savvy HR professional may miss a red flag. After all, the candidate is doing and saying all the right things to impress you and land the job. But when she meets with your team she is more likely to let down her guard.

Will she perceive these folks as peers? Underlings? Competitors? You’d be surprised what you may hear when your people report back about their meeting. Language, attitudes, style and other work/personal traits can be revealed, leading to a resounding thumbs-up or an unexpected thumbs-down. If it’s the former, your team is already poised to welcome their new colleague enthusiastically. If it’s the latter, you can avoid a costly hiring mistake.

Support success via on-boarding.

Just because your new hire seems like a great fit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help her fit in. Today’s best employers have developed on-boarding processes that enable new people to transition smoothly into their new environment. Beyond a tour that shows where they will park, work and find the restroom, best practices include assigning a mentor.

Be sure to bring your new person up to speed on company goals and the objectives, etc. that specifically relate to her position. You may have covered some of that during the hiring process, but now is the time to reiterate key points or provide additional details. Top-performing employees are those who understand the big picture and how their role contributes to organizational success.

Here’s the bottom line.

Candidates with the best skills and experience are obvious potential assets. But in the end, you can teach someone to do a job. You cannot teach them to fit comfortably and productively into your organization. That’s why smart hiring professionals are careful to choose the best person, not only for the position but for the company as a whole.

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