Have you ever worked for a company that was into corporate culture—I mean really into corporate culture? I’ve had this experience. I once worked for a company that instilled its corporate values into every aspect of the business. The meeting rooms were named after corporate values. Emails were signed with the statement, “In our corporate value of __.” Meetings highlighted specific corporate values that would be emphasized. With this dedication to corporate values, the company took extreme measures to ensure that job candidates were willing to live up to these values. If a hire didn’t support the values, then there was no point in having that person in the organization.

Chances are, you’ve had interviews with job applicates who had the technical skills for the job, but perhaps not the right personality to meld with the team. Hiring someone who doesn’t fit your company’s personality can be a costly mistake.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share five tips from business technology writer, Minda Zetlin, to use as a litmus test for hiring the candidate with the best cultural fit for your organization.

1. Define your company’s culture. If your company is small or a start-up, you might not have given much thought to its culture, but this is an important step. Your mission or vision statement is a good place to start. Identify the values that drive you and your employees to show up and work hard every day. Beyond that, consider how your company compares to others in your industry. Ask your employees or colleagues for input and come up with a sentence or two that captures your company’s personality.

2. Write job ads with culture in mind. Integrate the feel of your organization into your job postings and show potential candidates what they can expect from your brand and culture. This will begin to weed out those who would not enjoy your culture, and attract those who would benefit from it. For example, if yours is an informal, family-friendly workplace, with child care onsite, and where pets are welcomed, say so. If yours is a more formal workplace with a prestigious history, say so.

3. Include culture questions in regular interviews. From your first conversations with a candidate, interviewers should be thinking about cultural fit. Ask a few questions that identify their thoughts on that type of culture. Candidates who pass the initial screening can then be invited back.

4. Know which questions to ask, and which to avoid. Ask questions that speak to the core values and culture of the organization, without directly asking about each value. One question might be “What is something you have accomplished this summer that you are really proud of?” This type of question identifies those like to learn new things and improve their skills. And be clear to the candidate about the role of your core values in the job. For example, to say that your culture is fun-loving and risk-taking is good, but to say that all employees should participate in extreme sports sounds like your workplace discriminates against disabled or older workers.

5. Train employees to conduct culture interviews. Once you’ve determined that the candidate has the right skills and is potential fit for your organization, schedule a “cultural” interview. Have the candidate meet with potential team members as well as some from other areas of the organization. Assess their feedback and make your decision.

All of this input, together with the candidate’s performance on your skills assessment, will put you in the best position to make the right choice.

Source: Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of The Geek Gap, and former president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She lives in Snohomish, Washington.