Workplace culture can be defined as the way you and your employees act and embody your company’s core values while you’re at work. Communicating what workplace culture really feels like to candidates during the hiring process is a skill the most experienced recruiters learn to master.

Everyone at your company should be able to repeat, understand and promote a positive workplace culture every day. As a recruiter and the first point of contact for potential new hires, your understanding of that culture needs to be second to none. 

What Does Workplace Culture Look Like? 

In a perfect world, workplace culture looks the way your brand makes people feel. It’s the visual identity you use on your website and marketing materials and the tone of voice your company chooses to show off to the world. 

Your company’s brand is the first impression a customer or candidate will have of your organization. The way you introduce them to the organization during the interview process is likely their first example of the culture in action – their impression is all based on your tone, interview style, and conversation. 

Billions of companies and positions are now searchable instantly to prospective employees via LinkedIn, Google, recruitment listings, and company ranking sites. The first experience they have when they encounter your brand on the web has a huge impact on their expectation of the hiring process. 

The first experience they have talking to you will set their expectations on how the company culture truly is. Communicating that culture is your job. 

Is it really any wonder that communicating our culture and our brand at every point of the candidate experience like a pro is so vital?

Communicating workplace culture properly and winning the best candidates for the job has more than the short-term “new hire” benefits.

New hires that are well-aware of the company culture and mission during their interview process will find it easier and faster to integrate themselves into that culture. Understanding and embracing how their new role ties into your company’s mission leads to a myriad of benefits: productivity, a sense of feeling connected, engagement, morale, and retention to name a few. 

Employees that feel like they were misled or did not clearly understand or align with workplace culture during hiring will benefit no one. According to a recent study by Robert Walters, 73% of employees have left a job because of a poor cultural fit. 90% of employers believe it is very important to find a candidate who is the right cultural fit but 82% of employees have disliked the culture of their company at some point in their career. 

So how do you put your best foot forward when it comes to communicating your workplace culture during the hiring and interview process? Let’s talk about how you can lay the foundation of a successful hiring program.  

Don’t Shy Away From The Competition, Or The Truth

With the job-market booming for potential employees, recruiters are pulling out all the stops to impress top talent. That doesn’t mean you should try to become the most attractive to everyone. The things that make your culture unique and attractive to some candidates will turn off others and that’s ok as long as you’re being clear and consistent on what differentiates your organization. 

Chart The Candidate Experience 

Give thought to the journey your candidates will embark on when they enter the interview process at your organization. Following the initial interview screening calls there should be consistency throughout different departments within the company in how interviewers determine value fit. 

Different roles may require different interview scenarios as they progress through the interview process (coding exercises vs. sales exercises for example). But as the first interviewer or recruiter to have spoken to the candidate, you’ll help design a common thread that runs throughout the entire interview process. 

Plot out the multiple steps candidates will move through and review and align on them as an interview team. Then share that information with the candidate early on in the process. Outline what meetings candidates can expect as they progress so they are clear on what stage they are at.  

Be Prepared To Adapt Your Hiring Process

Think of how a tour around the office can be replicated for a virtual onsite. It’s easy to give candidates a sense of company culture when they’re being walked through stocked kitchens, well-being areas, or game rooms in person. 

Online, it will require interviewers to be purposeful in their description of company culture, as well as honest about how that culture may have changed if you’re now incorporating more remote work permanently.

Be prepared to share how your organization may have shifted in regards to workplace culture following the pandemic. As an organization, you should be aligned throughout every department on the following key questions that candidates will have and use to assess your culture. They’ll want to know: 

  • How you’ll expect and encourage them to manage work/life balance.
  • What the company policy is now in regards to fully-remote work, and what it will be in six months or six years. 
  • How your organization is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for how you’ll communicate the workplace culture to candidates as a team, you can deploy that knowledge into tactical elements of the interview process.

Job Descriptions

The key to a job description that accurately reflects your workplace culture is to be clear about what your organization stands for and put it out for the whole world to see. By sharing core values, aspirations, and DEI goals you hold yourself and your team accountable for living up to them. 

These same values and aspirations should be reflected on your website and ideally any other listings or profiles where your company appears and promotes job opportunities. 

  • Be clear about the role you’re hiring for and how it fits in with pre-existing roles.
  • Give some indication of long-term company strategy.
  • Describe a typical workday or week.
  • Don’t overstate your selling points: just be honest.
  • Describe traits ideal candidates might possess that would promote success within the company and their prospective role.

Interview Questions 

Don’t underestimate the importance of your interview questions and how they’ll show off company culture. Instead of trying to assess “culture fit”  during interviews, you may consider asking questions that give candidates an opportunity to share how their diverse experience would enrich the company with new perspectives.

Candidates with diverse backgrounds that are aligned with your core values will help you build a more inclusive and healthy culture. Consider asking:

  • What about your last role/company was a good fit for you/what didn’t feel like a good fit?
  • What was the last mistake you made at work? How did you grow from it?
  • What style of management works best for you? 
  • Describe a project you completed that you were proud of, and why.
  • What organizations or professional leaders inspire you?

Post Interview and Recruiter Etiquette

The way you show up culturally does not end when you’re ready to move on from a candidate. Rejecting a candidate is still an important touchpoint and opportunity to showcase your culture. Their perception of you and the interview experience is something the candidate has every right (and opportunity) to share with the whole world. 

  • Don’t leave candidates hanging: be prompt and provide frequent updates.
  • Reflect your company values in your response back. 
  • If you pride yourself on transparency as a core value make sure your rejection note is an honest interpretation of their performance as a candidate.
  • Offer a phone call to provide further feedback and ask for their feedback in return. 

Hiring is moving at a furious pace, and recruiters themselves are sometimes short-staffed and strained. So it takes a real commitment to making sure you are communicating workplace culture accurately.

After years of working with hundreds of organizations that put culture first, we discovered that even with the best intentions, it’s still really hard to provide a window into the company culture.

If you’re looking for a tool that can help provide a cohesive brand and culture experience for candidates, Prelude Engage may be for you. Reach out if you’d like to learn more.