Imagine this scenario: A short while ago, let’s say, two months ago, you hired someone to hold an important position in your company. Their résumé was flawless, they seemed to have the exact skill set you had been dreaming of, and they seemed kind and well-spoken in their interview. But two months down the line, you’re finding that this person is just not working out. You’re getting a lot of people coming into your office, closing the door, and saying, “Man, you will not believe what this person just said or did.” Even you are finding that this person somehow isn’t working out like you had hoped, though perhaps you can’t put your finger on exactly what the problem is. Suddenly it hits you. The person may be fine for the job, but they do not mix with your company’s culture. They are the oddball out of all of your employees. This does not mean the person has to be reminiscent of Gomez or Morticia Addams. It just means that they do things in a way that does not mesh with the rest of your company’s ways of doing things. It may mean that they believe in sharing where your other employees believe in being a bit isolated. Whatever the differences may be, they are enough that it causes problems.

As you think back on your hiring process, you are likely to find that this subject did not enter your mind. Ultimately, it would seem, the most important priority is to make sure you can get someone in who can do what you need them to do. However, as John Jantsch points out in The Commitment Engine, hiring for culture can, in the long run, be just as important as hiring for skills.

Why is corporate culture important? If you are trying to establish a culture of sharing at your company, you do not want to bring in a person who believes staunchly in isolating individuals and/or departments. If you are trying to emphasize customer service, you do not want to bring in a person who does not excel in dealing with people. If you are trying to build your culture around a mission of helping people while having fun, a wet noodle is not going to mesh with those plans. Moreover, if your company is planning on incorporating everyone into social media marketing, you want to make sure that there is a general voice that everyone can use seamlessly online. If you don’t consider culture during the hiring process, you are apt to bring in people who will not be able to fit into that jigsaw puzzle.

How do you incorporate culture into your hiring process? Jantsch mentions that one company, Sky Factory (a manufacturer of customized, specialized ceiling tiles) sometimes includes twelve employees into the interview process so that they can offer their insights into the person applying for the position. That can be intimidating for the applicant and it can also take a lot of your work force away from their tasks, so that might not be the ultimate solution for you. Jantsch mentions that what some companies do is accept referrals from existing employees. And of course, these days you can follow people on Twitter or take a look at their other social networks and get some idea of what they are like. This is why social media is becoming increasingly important for people who are looking for jobs.

More than anything, though, culture, as Jantsch mentions, is really about intuition. Even though applicants will be showing you their best face during the interview, and even though they might be more nervous than usual, you can usually gain pretty good insights into what kind of person they are. Sometimes, in fact, you may find yourself leaning towards a less skilled applicant simply because you feel like you could get along with them better. These kinds of instincts should be acknowledged, though ultimately it’s the skills your employee will need to truly succeed.

If you have ever employed someone who didn’t quite mesh with your company’s culture, you know the levels of discomfort that can cause for everyone. It may seem silly to focus so much on a personality when you are hiring, but in the long run, it is essential.

Note: This is the sixth post in our series inspired by John Jantsch’s The Commitment Engine. If you want to explore the previous posts, just click here!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6235678871/ via Creative Commons