Like Lucy and Ricky, peanut butter and jelly, and Bert and Ernie, some things just go together – and it’s the same with business. The most successful companies are those with employees who “fit together” – a fit that includes an elusive blend of culture, personalities, and passion for the business. When recruiting, it’s important to seek out talented people who will contribute to this sense of cohesion.
Rock Stars Need Not Apply
Take a step back and look at your business: What are your core values? These are the traits to look for in potential hires. My company dedicated time surveying our employees, investors, customers, and friends to find our brand attributes – smart, friendly, accessible, responsive, and quirky. We look for these traits in all potential employees. At Magoosh, we recruit for culture first. No matter how talented applicants may be, if they aren’t a good fit with our culture, we won’t bring them on.
Employees are Investments
It’s easy to get caught up in applicant qualifications when interviewing – but, the fact is, each new hire is a multi-year investment in your company. Look past specific skills that can be learned within a matter of weeks or months. Instead, focus on potential and fit. Look for employees who take their work personally; they should be proud to show off previous work and be attentive to details that may not to matter to others. It’s not about hiring employees who work 24/7 – it’s about hiring those who stand behind their work.
These are the key questions I recommend asking in an interview to determine fit:
- “Why are you interested in working at this company?” If the candidate’s answer is canned or would apply to any other business, he’s probably not intrinsically motivated to work at your company.
- “How would you respond to a frustrated customer who asks for his money back after the refund window has passed?” Hypothetical, situational questions like these don’t necessarily have a “right answer,” but the tone of the response can tell you a lot. Is it consistent with your brand attributes? Does it embody what your company stands for?
We even have employees play foosball just outside the room during the interview. Gauging the potential employee’s reaction helps identify how good a fit he’d be, as we have a very open work environment that often includes “distractions” like these.
Take Them Out
We try to take potential employees out to lunch, where we play word games or have philosophical debates about various topics (most of which I don’t even understand!). These events are as important for us as they are for the potential employee. A good fit goes both ways, and we want to find people who are as happy working for us as we are to have them.
Like PB & J, which would be nothing without either of its key ingredients, a successful business is a sum of its parts. A cohesive company culture requires similar personalities, motivations, and passions. Finding a good fit is just as important for your company as it is for new hires, and it allows you to foster a unified culture that will support and build your brand for years to come.
Bhavin Parikh is the CEO and co-founder of Magoosh, an online test prep company that provides video lessons and practice questions accessible anytime, anywhere for exams such as the GMAT,GRE, and SAT.
Category: Startup Advice