Hire for Cultural Fit in Your Interiorscape Company

“Culture is the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic ‘taken for granted’ fashion an organization’s view of itself and its environment.”

Edgar Schein, Author and former MIT professor

A coherent business culture can make your interiorscape company stand out from the crowd and create a common bond amongst employees and amongst clients. Culture is the glue holding your organization together, ensuring employee satisfaction, and thus, employee loyalty. As the owner, you are the leader of your interiorscape company culture. Understanding the significance of culture, you do not want to bring in anyone, whether a new hire or new client, who damages the glue.

At NewPro, we have created a dog-friendly workplace culture. (Pictured: Wrigley + Nala)

The Importance of Cultural Fit

When it comes to hiring, assessing a person’s skills is much easier than figuring out if his or her attitude and values match your company’s. As author Anthony Bourdain wrote, “Skills can be taught; character you either have or you don’t.” Employees represent the organization —its mission, values, and brand. As an interiorscape company, your employees will often be directly interacting with clients as they provide services at those offices. If you make the mistake of hiring someone who misrepresents your company, the damage can be difficult, if not impossible, to repair.

“Of the six critical elements of work fit, culture fit is the hardest to grasp. It is largely invisible, unwritten and unspoken, but paradoxically, it causes employees the greatest pain, dissatisfaction, frustration and failure to thrive. “

Carrick and Dunaway, Authors, Fit Matters

Hiring someone who does not fit the company culture is like handing an open invitation to a deadly virus. In addition to causing problems with clients, that new hire might create a toxic work environment. It only takes one dissatisfied employee to weaken everyone’s morale and work quality. And when that employee eventually leaves the company (or gets fired), he may take out some of his coworkers as well because of increased dissatisfaction, decreased collaboration, and company loyalty.

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

When you hiring someone who fits your interiorscape company’s culture, you strengthen the business and lower employee turnover. At NewPro, we approach recruitment from the perspective of building our team. We do not merely want employees to do a job; we want to build a community that shares values and experiences. Our success is built on the success of our team and its people, not on skillsets alone.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Hire slow, fire fast.” Great advice to live by. Don’t rush into hiring someone with a perfectly tailored resume, subject matter expertise, or a top-notch recommendation. You’ll never hit the jackpot if you focus only on skills and not on cultural fit.

And keep in mind, hiring criteria for cultural fit apply to every position at every level of your interiorscape company. From plant tech to supervisor to accountant, your employees are a team. And you’ve definitely heard and most likely experienced the phrase, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link …”

How to Hire for Cultural Fit

In a previous article, I mentioned a few steps on how to communicate your interiorscape culture through the job recruitment process. But how do you get a candidate to communicate their culture? Their values? Their habits and behaviors? The questions you ask during screening, interviewing, and following up with candidates provide countless opportunities for you to gain an understanding of that individual’s cultural fit.

Example Questions

  1. Why do you believe you are the best candidate to work here, outside of your technical expertise?
  2. From what you have seen, how would you describe this company’s culture?
  3. How would you describe the culture of your previous workplace? How well do you believe you fit in?
  4. What’s most important to you about an ideal workplace environment?
  5. Describe the work environment or culture in which you are most productive and happy.
  6. What are the characteristics exhibited by the best boss you have ever had—or wish that you have had?
  7. In your experience, what how does an organization encourage your use of your discretionary energy and effort, that willingness each employee has, to go the extra mile, push harder, spend more time, and do whatever is necessary to get the job done?
  8. Describe the management style that will bring forth your best work and efforts.
  9. Describe what you believe are the most effective roles that a good manager plays in his or her relationship with reporting staff members.
  10. Do you have a best friend at work? How do you feel about becoming friends with your coworkers? Is this a wise practice?
  11. What are the positive aspects of your current job and work environment, or the last position you held before coming to this interview?
  12. What is the single most important factor that must be present in your work environment for you to be successfully and happily employed? Now that you have answered that question, what were two others that you debated about responding before you gave the response that you chose?
  13. What is your preferred work style? Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team? What percentage of your time would you allocate to each, given a choice?
  14. How would your co-workers describe your work style and contributions in your former job?
  15. What are the three to five expectations that you have of senior leaders in an organization where you will work successfully?
  16. Tell us about an occasion when you believe that you delighted a customer, either an internal or an external customer.
  17. When you work with a team, describe the role that you are most likely to play on the team.
  18. How would coworkers describe the role that you play on a team?
  19. When working with people, in general, describe your preferred relationship with them.
  20. How would reporting staff members describe their relationship with you? What would they like to see you do more of, less of, start, and stop?
  21. Provide an example of a time when you went out of your way and jumped through hoops to delight a customer.
  22. Tell us about a decision that you made that was made based primarily on customer needs and input.

Many companies require candidates to perform assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Predictive Index. But the best way to judge cultural fit is to push candidates into the deep end. Bring them into the office and allow them to interact with your team. Take the candidates out for lunch interviews. Find ways to observe candidates in situations similar to those they would experience daily if hired for the position.

The Flipside of Cultural Fit

Hiring for cultural fit is not only about finding the right person for your interiorscape company; it’s about finding the right position for the candidate. Bringing them into a business and culture they do not fit is just as unfair to the individual as it is to your organization and employees. Give everyone a hand by communicating your interiorscape culture and assessing a candidate’s fit upfront. Doing so will boost your leadership, employee morale, and company brand.

Jeremy is the owner and CEO of NewPro Containers, publisher of Modern Plantscaper Magazine, and co-founder of Relevance.com, a content promotion and distribution services company. Jeremy sits on the national board of Green Plants for Green Buildings. He is a graduate of Purdue University

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