The What, Why, and, How of Hiring for Cultural Fit

This article was originally publish on the ICMI blog on February 3, 2014.  Click here to read the original post along with many other wonderful contact center and customer service articles.

fitThe What

Company culture is this cliché buzzword that business types love to toss around these days—but what in the world is it?  I’m one of those sensitive people who’s all about getting in touch with my feelings, so I suppose a good company culture feels a lot like a company I would want to work for.

In business lingo one might say that a great company culture is critical in creating high performing and lasting teams that are able to meet key business goals and deliver a consistently awesome product or service to all stakeholders.

The Why

Why is culture so important you ask?  A poor, negative culture has the power to send employee morale down and drive turnover up.  When this culture hits your contact center, the effect on customer satisfaction is direct and deadly.  On the flipside, companies like Zappos that champion culture, are reaping the rewards with their customers in big ways.

The How

When it comes to creating a dynamic culture and then hiring new team members that fit that culture, here are 3 things to consider.

1. Culture is intentional- While a team of great customer service professionals and all around good people might sort of stumble into a good culture, there has to be a level of intentionality.  Before going any further, it’s critical that you start the process of creating a customer service vision and then aligning your team around that vision.  At, we strive to be awesome.  This Customer Service Alignment Assessment from Jeff Toister really helped us move from haphazard to intentional.

2. Culture starts with leadership– If you are a leader in your organization, your words only go so far.  It is essential that you enforce the culture constantly with your actions.  This reinforces what that culture is.  This may be as simple as delivering awesome internal customer service to your staff when they ask you questions.  They will then turn around and do the same for your customers.  Your staff is watching you.

3. Awesome culture is exciting- When your staff has fully bought into the culture, they become excited and energized by it—so much so that they will protect and enforce it.  I’m constantly amazed by the way my team members care for one another and for our customers in a way consistent with our culture completely unprompted by me.

Once you have established the first three items on this list, you are ready to add new members to your team.  Here are the next 3 things to ensure that you hire for cultural fit.

4. Your job posting highlights your culture– In many cases, your job posting is a job candidate’s first encounter with your culture.  Be sure to highlight the very best of what your culture has to offer and make sure it’s accurate.  Just like a customer is angry when expectations go unmet, so will a candidate be when they feel deceived by false claims in a job posting.  Your posting will attract candidates to your company and culture.  In some cases, it might detract others.  I actually had one candidate read about our culture and share in detail why he could never work for us.

5. Interviews go both ways– In every interview both over the phone and in person, I remind candidates that this is about both parties determining if they are a fit for the culture.  We want our candidates to get a very strong feel for the culture of the company during the interview process so they feel like they are making the best move for their career.

6. Coworkers protect the culture– When considering culture, the book Tribal Leadership is a worthy read.  In it the authors talk about the way in which new members are either inducted into or rejected from the culture by the existing members.  It is essential that key members of your team meet candidates during the interview process and have input on the hiring decision.  You need to get a gauge for how much work it will require to induct new members into the culture.

By hiring for cultural fit, you ensure that your culture will continue to grow stronger and stronger.  At we define awesome customer service as consistently serving customers in such a way that builds meaningful and lasting connections and is awe-inspiring.  With each new person we hire who champions awesome customer service, our culture grows stronger and the experience for our customers becomes all the more consistent and well—awesome!


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