Hiring for Culture

Hiring for Culture

Culture isn’t about beer, ping-pong tables or t-shirts, as a rough rule if you can buy it in a shop it’s isn’t your “culture”.

‘Culture fit’ is unique to each startup, and is based on how the candidate’s personal values and behaviours align with the company’s values.

It’s crucial that you determine what your values are before you start throwing around notions of ‘culture fit’.

Culture fit isn’t as simple as: “Do I want to hang out with this person?” That’s too subjective. It often leads to a team of very similar people. Friendship is a byproduct of making a great hire, it’s not a pre-requisite.

To identify your team’s values, talk to the team about what they believe to be their common traits. Bring those together to form a short list of attributes that define how your team operates and works together. Or put another way: what matters to your team?

If your company’s values are too aspirational they will soon be seen as inauthentic and redundant. 

So make sure to mostly ground this in how the team is today, and not just focus on what you aspire to be. A great test for the values you’ve created is to ask yourself if they would prevent you from doing something. If you would opt out of a decision that may lead to revenue because it’s not aligned with your values, that’s a good sign that the values you’ve chosen ‘have teeth’ and that they’re core to your beliefs.

Once you have this list of values, you can create interview questions to target whether or not those values align with your candidate.

As an example, at Facebook I would ask this question:

“What is the most impactful thing you created for your team, and why do you consider that to be the most impactful?”

One of our values was ‘Focus on impact’, so this question was designed to measure a candidate’s alignment with that.