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Hire for cultural fit, train for the right IT skills

Sharon Florentine | April 3, 2014
Hiring for the right cultural fit can be more important than focusing on technical skills alone and can help companies improve employee retention, engagement and loyalty.

How do you identify someone who's a good cultural fit? For some organizations, it's as easy as noticing what they wear, says Care.com's Duchesne. One large manufacturer of snowboarding equipment, for example, advises potential candidates not to wear a suit to an interview; in fact, if someone does arrive wearing a suit, they're instantly discounted as not being a good cultural fit, simply based on how they're dressed, Raphael says.

For startup Grammarly.com, an automated proofreading tool for English-language writers, making sure new hires are a good cultural fit means candidates are assessed based on the acronym EAGER (Ethical, Adaptable, Gritty, Empathetic and Remarkable), says Grammarly's CEO Brad Hoover.

"We codified our culture profile with one word — EAGER. Assessing skills is relatively straightforward, but culture fit is much more difficult, especially if the culture is not defined, so that was priority number one for us," Hoover says.

"Our hiring process is much more efficient because of this filter — we spend much less time getting to a final decision and we've been really successful at making the right hiring decision," he says.

Putting EAGER to Work
The acronym EAGER stands for all qualities Grammarly.com looks for in its employees. Potential hires are introduced to and approved by the company's executive team, and then hiring teams are formed based on that potential employee's role and who they'll be working for and with, Hoover says.

The first letter stands for Ethical, and Hoover explains that "with an ethical team, we can trust each other and put lots of responsibility in the hands of everyone on the team."

"Something like 89 percent of people leave a job because they're not happy. Even if that statistic is overblown, even if it's only 50 percent, that's an epidemic. And it's as bad for the employees as it is for business." — Sean Storin, CEO, One Degree

This is critical in a startup with only about 70 team members split between offices in San Francisco and Kiev, Ukraine. The second letter stands for Adaptable: the ability to embrace change and learn in order to evolve and succeed, Hoover says.

"Our people must apply a positive, problem-solving attitude to whatever they're doing," he says. "They've got to be looking out for potential problems and proactively thinking — either individually or collectively — about how to solve them." The G is for Gritty, Hoover says, which emphasizes the need for both passion and perseverance when going after long-term goals.

"This is especially important for a startup to do whatever it takes to get the job done whenever it is necessary," he says. "As tech companies grow, teams can't grow as quickly as the user base, so it's hard for the hiring and onboarding process to keep up as demand for the product grows. We want our people to have the grit to persevere, even when it's difficult."

 

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