Employee search: How employee referrals help to hire for cultural fit

Finding the right employees is difficult – simply defining what is ‘suitable’ can be a challenge. What needs to be taken into account in the search for personnel? What role does the cultural fit play in this? We share our insights to help solve this challenge for the modern day recruiter.

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The importance of cultural fit in recruiting​

First, consider the “cultural fit” between the company and the applicant. If the candidate’s own values match the company’s values, chances are good that he or she will fit the company, the team and the corporate culture. If, on top of that, the professional qualifications are right, it’s a match!

Getting to know each other initially, in a different way


Hiring the wrong person can end up being very expensive.
A CareerBuilder study estimates the costs of a wrong hire between $7000 – $10,000 depending on the industry and position. With that being said it is important to create opportunities to get to know each other and to communicate expectations clearly. This begins with the creation of the job advertisement.

Distinguish yourself from other companies by highlighting your corporate culture through your brand voice in the job ad. Give the advertisement a personal touch, with photos of the team or insights into the company.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends, 66% of applicants want to get more company insights from employees before hiring. They use these insights as a basis for their decision to choose their future employer.

To meet this need, you can design video messages or give them the opportunity to talk to a team member informally in advance. This simple step reduces hurdles and builds trust with your future team member.

Alternatively, you can choose a different format to the classic job advertisement. For example, tell a story in which you present the job profile and your company. Instead of a letter of motivation, the applicant could write the appropriate ending to the story.

The more you reveal about your company, the sooner the candidate will know whether they fit the job and you will receive high-quality applications.

Use your network

Visualise in advance what your ideal candidate looks like. On closer inspection, you may discover the right candidate in your own companies ranks, or your employees may know someone from their personal network.

Take advantage of these opportunities by mobilizing your internal resources, activating your own network or start an employee referral program.

Candidates that came through an employee referral program are proven to fit better into the company and stay longer. By chatting with an existing employee, the candidate learns first hand what makes the company tick.

Testing team dynamics

If possible, involve the team in the application process. Candidates that apply through an employee referral program already have this inherent in their application, but you can also extend it by involving the other members of your team.

The team knows best what requirements a candidate must meet and whether the chemistry is right. In this way, the candidate also gets a first impression and immediately recognizes whether he or she feels comfortable in this environment.

Ask the right questions

During an interview, do not focus exclusively on technical issues. Choose a mix, which allows you to get to know the candidate and his or her cultural attitude better. Questions could be, for example:

  • What motivates you to come to work?
  • What was the last good book you read?
  • If you started your own business, what would it be?
  • How could a manager best support you?
  • What three things do you need to be successful in this position?
  • What was the most valuable lesson in your career?
  • What does a successful corporate culture look like to you?
  • If you do not get this position, what will be your next career step?
  • When was the last time you took a professional risk?

Get an overview of what talents really want.

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Majella Grawatsch

Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Majella completed her studies with a Bachelor of Business majoring in advertising from Queensland's University of Technology. After a few years of working in the gaming and entertainment industry in the APAC market, she moved to Vienna, Austria and joined the Firstbird team as a copywriter in 2016. She has never looked back, and now works across marketing, partnerships and sales in Firstbird’s international team.

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