This year we've hired two new engineers, three new designers, and an editor (that's me ... more on that soon) after an exhaustive search. Hiring great talent to build products online is tough. Not just because there are so few of them, but because it's so hard to figure out if they'll fit into your environment. Weeding out people that don't have the skills you are looking for is easy, but how do you determine if the person is the right culture fit?
Culture fit is a huge issue, and, in some ways, much more important than the skills the person has. You can teach a person to have the skills, but teaching them to be able to fit into your culture does not work. Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software is a perfect example of this. He started his own company because he couldn't find a company culture in New York that was a fit for him. Now he makes culture fit his top priority when hiring new engineers at Fog Creek
So the question becomes: How do you hire for culture fit? How do you make sure they fit into your culture before you offer them the position? Penny Arcade recently published a great example of how they tackle this problem. Check out the process they go through to ensure the person they are hiring is a culture fit:
Notice how they went about hiring Erika. They went bowling and played Pictionary with all the candidates, trying to engage them more as people. They weren't searching just for a warm body for the office, they were searching for a friend. Hanging out with your candidates helps you figure out if they'll fit in to your company culture.
What Penny Arcade does is very similar to how we figure out if a candidate is the right culture fit at ZURB. During our one day interview process, we try our best to get a sense of how the candidate would respond to our culture. How would they take our joking? Our scrappiness? Our chaos? Airgun NERF bullets flying at them? It's absolutely a HUGE part of making the decision to hire someone. Everyone at ZURB interviews the candidate and has to agree to hire the person in order to bring someone on.
This focus on culture fit carries over to our ZURBjobs board. We ask every company that lists on the job board to provide fun pictures of their culture as well as fun facts about games, perks, and activities they have at the company that we can share with potential candidates. It helps us match the right type of people to their job listings.
When it comes to hiring someone to work for you, try giving them a glimpse of your culture and get a chance to know who they are, not just what they can do.