Hiring Talent for Culture Fit

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Over this past year we hired two new engineers and three new designers and it's been quite a journey trying to find them. Believe it or not, we've evaluated hundreds of applicants during the year in order to find these five awesome people. One of the hiring philosophies at ZURB is that all of us have to agree on hiring the person, and that the person has to have the skills and be a culture fit at the company.

What does it mean to hire for a culture fit? It has to do with having a character similar to all of us here. It's hard to explain without too many words. Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software is a master of putting culture fit at the top of his priorities when hiring engineers; after all, he started the company because he could not find a New York City company with the right culture fit. Take a look at how he describes the culture at Fog Creek:

Notice how the following things are emphasized in this video:

  • how lack of right culture in other companies forced him to start a company
  • autonomy given to employees
  • bias against traditional management
  • lifestyle of a few employees in New York City, what they do in the off time
  • details of the culture such as conversation topics during lunch
  • ability to master a skill and build the best software

Hiring for culture fit is a tough thing to do, yet in our case it has proven to help with retention of employees as well as overall happiness of employees. The people you work with are as important as the job itself (if not more). My wife has left countless firms where she loved the job but felt like she was simply the wrong fit for the teams and the culture of the company. Most of the time it took her 6 months to understand the culture of the company and what type of people it attracts. Most companies don't have a video about culture like the one above.

Since we launched the ZURBjobs board we've seen many job specs for people looking for talent, most of them focus on skills (jQuery, HTML5, CSS3, Python, PHP, Photoshop), very few focus on culture, yet it's such an important part of building a strong and happy team of passionate people.

Next time you ask someone to work for you, take a lesson from Joel in this video and think about the culture fit for this person. Hire for culture fit.

By the way, Joel Spolsky is looking for an interaction designer! Shameless plug, we know. '

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