5 Questions to Ask Clients About Their Company Culture

152504463Your clients are looking to you for candidates who not only have the right skills, but also will fit like a glove into the company culture. After all, with 70 percent of the American workforce cashing their checks but mentally checking out, cultural fit is more important than ever. Of course, finding the exact right candidate for your client is certainly easier said than done.

Finding the right candidate for your client’s company culture is like playing Goldilocks in the famous nursery rhyme. You need to find the perfect bowl of porridge, or in this case the perfect hire for your client’s open position. Just like Goldilocks, this is going to require a little trial and error. Most important, making the right fit will require truly understanding your client’s company culture on a deeper level.

Imagine you work for ABC Staffing company and their new client, Three Bears Inc., is looking for an employee to work on developing a new kind of disruptive, next-gen porridge. This is an exciting prospect and you can’t wait to hit the ground running. But before you can give Three Bears Inc. what they want, you should understand what they need from their dream candidate.

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You schedule a meeting with the leadership over at Three Bears, tuck into a delicious bowl of their cutting-edge porridge, and ask these five questions:

1. What are your company goals? Your client should have a well-developed mission statement and goals they keep in focus. This is the internal messaging that guides the company and keeps it on track. Knowing, for instance, that Three Bears Inc. is dedicated to properly heated porridge and privacy is a huge help for finding the best fitting candidate.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions that may seem a little wacky, like why the company chose their name or why the organization feels their product or service is necessary. Understanding your client’s goals means you can find a candidate for the company equally passionate about the product and aligned with the company’s values.

2. Describe your company culture in three words. You probably have some pre-existing ideas about what the company is like and what their culture entails. Throw those ideas out the window, and remember your outside perspective looks a lot different than an internal point-of-view. The three words your client chooses to describe the company culture will give you important clues into what the value promotes most and values highest.

3. What perks and benefits do you offer to keep employees happy? Unlimited vacations, flexible work schedules, and on-site gyms are all perks you can use to entice great employees to give your client a chance. The perks won’t just help you attract great candidates, they’re also key to understanding what is important to the company.

If a company offers flexible work schedules, they probably value work-life balance. If they offer free catered lunches and dry cleaning services, it might be because they need employees willing to burn the midnight oil. Read between the lines of offered perks and don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions about what you think the perk says about the overall culture.

4. What skills and characteristics does the company value? This might be the most important question you ask, because it’ll help you determine what candidates will be the right fit. Your client might value teamwork or they might be looking for self-directed superstars. The company might be obsessed with transparency or happy with hierarchy.

Knowing what skills are more valued will allow you to quickly determine fit, whether the candidate is sitting across the desk from you or on the other side of the world in a video interview. With the skills gap ever widening, you might have to look outside your client’s geographic comfort zone for the right person. It’s essential, however, not to overlook cultural fit in your eagerness to lock down a candidate with hard-to-find skills. A certain amount of skills can be taught on the job, but you can’t teach an employee to love the company.

5. What’s more important, skills or creativity? Some companies are looking for candidates who can offer outside-the-box solutions to old problems and new innovations to help grow the organization. Other companies just need a great manager, a strong worker, or a smart accountant. Creativity is important, but for some companies, specific skills will be more essential.

Three Bears Inc. might need an innovative thinker to help take their product to market, or they might need someone with five years of web design experience. Determining where creativity falls on the corporate value spectrum will help you hire the best person for the job.

As a staffing pro, like Goldilocks, sometimes you have to experiment before you can find the candidate who is just right. If you take the time to truly understand your client’s company culture, however, you’ll be able to find the perfect hire.

What do you think? What questions do you ask your clients to determine cultural fit? Share in the comments!

MORE: Understanding your corporate culture is key

Josh Tolan
Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video interview solution used by more than 2,000 companies across the globe. Learn more about using video interviewing for staffing hiring and connect with Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

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