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Read Time: 8 Minutes 01.15.2019 Leadership

How to use Your Company Culture to Hire Better Employees

Anyone who has worked a day in their life can usually point out the “bad hires.” They’re the ones who show up late and sneak out early; who don’t put in the 110% during on-boarding to really “get it”; who don’t totally mesh with your company culture, struggle with being productive, and ultimately, don’t fit the description of the person they pitched on the résumé.

On the bottom level, employees usually feel the brunt of a bad hire — and fast — as they pick up the pieces from the bad hire’s inability to perform or lack of desire to perform. And from the top, you can usually spot bad hires based on their productivity level, morale, and impact on your team. This is a case for the good old gut check, too. If something feels off, it probably is.

There are some significant costs of a bad hire, too. A CareerBuilder survey found:

  • 41% of companies state that a “bad hire” has cost them $25,000 or more.
  • Another 25% of businesses placed a bad hire at the cost of $50,000, or higher.
  • The average cost of hiring the wrong individual for an entry level position averages between $7,000 and $10,000.
  • The average cost of hiring the wrong manager is often in excess of $40,000. (Can you imagine if you were the one responsible for hiring Michael Scott?)
  • 80% of employee decisions to quit have been caused by the effects of other employees — and we can’t even begin to calculate the financial impact on losing good employees.

All that being said, you’re likely wondering, Well, then how can we avoid bad hires? For small B2B tech companies — and start-ups in particular — the answer is critically important.

  1. First, you need to do a better job marketing your company and your culture. You are what you attract — so if you want to attract great candidates, you need to prove you’re a great company.
  2. Second, you need strong candidate vetting during the interview process.

Of course, we can’t promise you that doing a better job marketing your company and vetting prospects can eliminate the potential of any bad hire. But, taking the right steps can certainly help you limit the possibility. So, if you’re looking to hire more right-fit candidates (without necessarily investing more time and resources into the hiring process), keep on reading.

How to Do a Better Job Marketing Your Company Culture

New Call-to-actionHow you portray your B2B technology company to your prospective candidates is just as important to how you portray your company to your prospective clients. Right-fit candidates will identify with your company’s mission and values, and will make sure that it is known on their resume and cover letter — making it easier to sift through the high volume of applicants.

Here are the three main ways you can improve how your market your company and culture to attract and recruit better employees.

1. Humanize Your Brand

Whether you’re a small team of five, or a growing team of 5,000, culture matters. It should be at the center of your messaging and process. It’s how you make sure you’re all working toward a common goal, and that on a personal level, your employees enjoy spending time together.

There are several ways you can bring culture to the center of your message and humanize your brand, including sharing your mission and values, incorporating candid photography and videos of employees, and highlight real moments that convey “what employee life is like.”

You can humanize your brand on your website, social media, or even on websites like Glassdoor and Indeed that offer you the ability to write a profile and/or upload content.

For example, visit Campaign Monitor’s “Careers” page, and you’ll find a very human, very real brand.

campaign monitor jobs

Complete with candid photography, a value proposition, a mission, and a quick description of what working for Campaign Monitor is like, in just a few seconds, potential candidates know if Campaign Monitor is a right fit for them.

2. Earn Good Reviews on Glassdoor

Great employees want to work at great companies, which is why earning good reviews is important. While you can say whatever you want to on your website and job board, the authentic reviews of your current and former employees will tell a more trusted story to potential candidates.

Pendo Glassdoor

Ask a select handful of your employees who are happy and dedicated to write your company a review on Glassdoor. It is important to pick employees who have openly expressed happiness, gratitude, and dedication. Their reviews will be much more authentic than a review from an employee who does their job but does so from the shadows.

Be sure to follow online review best practices, and ensure that not every review is written on the same day. Spreading them out over a few months makes them feel more natural. Make sure your team has the freedom to speak their minds and from their hearts. There may be criticism they write about but haven't communicated to you. Address their concerns, but let the honest comments stand. 

3. Give the Skinny on Your Work Environment and Expectations

There’s no better time to set expectations about your company’s culture than during a candidate’s research phase. By visiting your “Careers” or “About Us” page on your website, they should be able to figure out if your company is a good fit, culturally. But what should you share on your public site, and what should you save for the interview process?

Potential candidates would like to be able to assess: According to Robert Half:

  • Employee job satisfaction
  • Work-life balance
  • Collaboration and productivity
  • Leadership that “walks the walk”
  • Effective work environment

Taking another look at Campaign Monitor’s Careers page, you’ll find that the company answers all of those questions in a sweet, simple, and human fashion.

campaign monitor jobs

In another example, Zapier, a remote-based B2B technology company leaves it up to their employees to talk about the company’s culture through a series of blog posts.

Zapier jobs blog

In both cases, we see companies creating content that sells their lifestyle and culture in hopes of attracting those who also thrive in that kind of lifestyle and culture. So, if your Careers page is just a list of job postings, it might be time to give it an upgrade. You can check out Campaign Monitor and Zapier for some initial inspiration!

How to Improve Your Hiring Process

If you’ve done a good job updating how you market your company and brand, you may have a surge of new, qualified applicants who you have to sift through. (A good problem to have!) But, how can you ensure you pick the perfect hire out of your group of great candidates? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Interject a “culture test” into the process.

What are the qualities that are most important to your workplace? Innovation? Teamwork? Dealing with adversity? Whatever you decide is most important, you don’t want to ask a potential hire, “Can you explain a situation where you were innovative?” or “Can you explain a situation where you had to deal with adversity, and how you overcame it?” While you may get some partial truths, you won’t get the whole story. You’re better off witnessing it for yourself.

For example, Charles Schwab’s CEO takes job candidates to breakfast and asks the restaurant to mess up their order in exchange for a hefty tip. “I do that because I want to see how the person responds,” he shared with Business Insider. ”That will help me understand how they deal with adversity. Are they upset, are they frustrated, or are they understanding? Life is like that, and business is like that. It’s just another way to get a look inside their heart rather than their head.”

Charles Schwab’s CEO isn’t the first to interject a “culture test” into the process. Many smaller B2B tech companies take their potential candidates out on “dinnerviews” to get a better understanding of how they treat others, and to get to know them in a less formal setting. Having a conversation over dinner can often tell more if the person is a “right fit” then asking them a standard set of interview questions they’ve answered many times over.

2. Give them a “take home” assignment.

“Take home” assignments are getting more and more popular during the interview process, as a way to determine if a potential candidate can perform as well as they say they can.

Once you’ve whittled your list of potential candidates down to a small handful of “right-fit” individuals, now is the time to put their knowledge and experience to the test. Give them a problem to solve or an assignment to complete. The “take home” assignment will not only give you a clear representation of their skill set, but also, a clear indication of their work ethic. Some individuals will spend hours on the assignment, while others will scrap it together in thirty minutes.

3. Don’t just ask ordinary questions.

Ordinary questions elicit ordinary responses, which any ordinary person can give. If you want extraordinary hires, even for your entry level positions, keep the standard questions to a minimum, even on the application.

For example, Zapier’s job applications ask for a candidate’s basic information, and then ask a series of open-ended questions to better understand them as a person, leader, and teammate. Visit any job on the company’s Jobs page, and you’ll notice that the series of questions asked is different.

For example, these questions for an engineering management position are far different than the questions asked for an entry-level marketing position.

Zapier hiring

While this process does take more time initially, it will help save time during the interview process by weeding out candidates earlier on.

Key Takeaway

Hiring the right candidates the first time around can save your company time, money, and frustration. However, it takes work on both the marketing front and the HR front. Unite your marketing and HR teams and help them work together to ensure you are attracting, recruiting, and retaining the right candidates.

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Mark Whitlock

Mark Whitlock

Marketing Manager Mark grew up behind a DJ’s mic before entering the world of publishing. He invests his time as Golden Spiral’s loudest cheerleader.