Culture for collaboration

An emphasis on fitting in during hiring can make for a more productive work environment, if certain important factors are kept in mind.

According to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, a potential employee’s cultural fit in a workplace is becoming more important in an interview setting than ever before.

Admittedly, this so-called trend is nothing new — employers have always considered more than just hard skills when making hiring decisions. The idea of a work culture existing at any business is expected; it’s evident that companies such as Lululemon or Starbucks look for individuals with certain traits and qualities to represent their brand.

Especially in jobs where collaborative teamwork takes priority, how an employee meshes with their colleagues is extremely important to the long-term productivity of a company. An individual’s cultural interests can also strongly relate to how they interact with their target product demographic as well as their larger work environment.

By asking seemingly trivial questions such as “What is your favourite ice cream flavour?” employers can identify certain desirable personality traits in a potential employee. In seeing how the interviewee answers the question, not necessarily the answer they give, employers can better evaluate a candidate’s fit in the larger institutional culture, thus helping to increase the productivity of the whole team.

These questions shouldn’t be the only ones emphasized in an interview. It’s important for employers to avoid hiring people solely because they think they’ll mesh well with other employees.

A diverse workforce with different personalities and skillsets can help an employer maintain a flow of creative ideas and effective work more so than a culturally homogenous workplace.

Employers also need to be weary of ensuring that their interviews promote cultural inclusiveness — the slant of the questions shouldn’t exclude anyone culturally such as new immigrants or individuals who may not have an in-depth understanding of Western culture.

Maintaining a disciplined hiring board and a balanced focus on both social skills and hard skills will ensure that the interview process remains fair.

Keeping these checks and balances in mind, thinking about an employee’s cultural fit in a workplace can lead to a smarter hire and a more productive workplace for all.

— Journal Editorial Board



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