Why Some Hires Are Not Culture Fits

Do you consider soft skills when interviewing potential hires?
Do you consider soft skills when interviewing potential hires? (iStock photo )

As we interview candidates for a job opening, it should be fairly easy to determine culture fit. Yet, I often hear that a new hire, "just didn't work out."

Interviews are primarily designed to determine if a candidate has the abilities to do a particular job. We tend to look for a track record of success and a set of relevant experiences.

We often fail to determine if a candidate has "soft skills." But it may be the soft skills that most often determine a person's ability to work within a new culture. The following areas are worth exploring to determine a candidate's goodness of fit:

1. Willingness to learn. A new hire in an organization will probably be climbing a learning curve in the new position. I like to look at a college transcript of a candidate (when appropriate) and not for the obvious reasons. I want to see the applicant's quitting record—how many classes were dropped along the way. Students don't usually drop classes unless there is some sort of struggle involved. I want to understand the struggle and the reason for quitting.

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I also want to explore the "how" of student learning. I ask questions about study habits and preparation for exams, projects and presentations. In many cases, how a student worked through assignments is how the student will perform within your organization. Does the candidate run TO problems or run AWAY from difficulties?

2. Help record. I probe for examples of how a candidate has provided help for others. I also look for consistency and commitment to care giving. It's great to see mission trips and big projects on a resume but I also want to know how the applicant has impacted their zip code. People who care leave breadcrumbs.

3. Communication skills. This is often unmeasured in the selection process of new hires, yet we would probably all agree that writing and speaking skills are critical to success.

I like to assign homework. I want the candidate to write something. I assign a relevant project, ask the candidate to do a little research and write a one-page position paper on the topic. I may also ask for Power Point presentation. (A ppt deck can provide insight into how a candidate thinks about speaking). It would be great to assemble a few people in your meeting room and ask the recruit to speak for five minutes about the research. You will learn all you need to about speaking abilities in five minutes. Why endure more?

Soft skills matter in the success of new team members. Develop your own system for developing the selection criteria that matters most to the success of your organization.

Your culture will be impacted by every new hire.

"When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, 'Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.' Simon answered Him, 'Master, we have worked all night and have caught nothing. But at Your word I will let down the net.' When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was tearing" (Luke 5:4-6).

Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, Love Leads.

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Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.


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