In this episode, Josh takes an in-depth look at why coach on culture first during the hiring process and why it is important for your organization.

Episode 49: Why Do We Do Culture Before Hiring

[00:03] Welcome to The Epic Company Culture Podcast, where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals, and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

Josh Sweeney: [00:15] Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney and welcome to The Epic Company Culture podcast. Before I get started, I would like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcasting space. The topic of today is a little bit about why we coach on culture first during the hiring process. We’ve been doing a lot of these epic hiring process sessions, and I’ve been able to explain why culture first is so important many times over in the last few weeks. We thought we would share some of that information with you. Now, when it comes to culture first, again, we hire based on those culture questions, was the first thing that we send out.


[00:56] The reason we do this is, one is when we send out the culture questions first, it’s a very scalable, easy, low impact way to filter through candidates. Let me give you the pro and the con or are two sides of the story. The first way is you get a hundred resumes, you’re a larger organization, you get a hundred, you get a thousand resumes. What we often see people do is they will go through those resumes until they get the right candidate, make a hire and move on. The problem is that you probably had some really good candidates somewhere else in that stack that you could have hired, or that may work out better over the long term, but you never got to them. The reason that’s done is to save time, right? It’s time consuming to go through every one of them first.


[01:44] Now, if you’re hiring on culture first and you’re sending out some culture questions, then everybody gets to answer those, and you get to prune people quickly. Now, real quick, you think, well, I don’t want a thousand answers, right? I have a thousand resumes and now you’re telling me I need to review a thousand answers to these questions. Not the case. When you respond with culture questions, we generally see seventy to eighty, sometimes even 90% of people just don’t respond. They’re the resume spammers. You get rid of those people very quickly, so you’re down to anywhere from ten to 30% of what’s left where you actually have to analyse the responses. A lot of those are going to be lacklustre responses that you’ll review and just be able to get rid of quickly and then the rest of them you dive down into. The reason we do culture first, number one reason is to find the best candidate very quickly in an automated fashion.


[02:41] Another reason that we do culture first hiring is, it’s a lot harder to game. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll recap it when you look at applicant tracking systems. When you look at a resume based on skill set, anybody can fill in whatever skill sets that they want and if you don’t use the trust, but verify method if you don’t trust the answer, but also verify it and the interviewer just glosses over the fact that they said they could do something that matches what you need and they just look past it, then they’ve thus gamified the system or gamed the system, and they’re just going to pass right through on the process and you’re going to find out they actually don’t have that skill set.

[03:21] Well, if you’re doing culture first and skillset as a later item, then you can’t game the system. People don’t know exactly what answer you’re looking for. Now, in our case, we talk about this, we podcast about it. We do videos, and if somebody doesn’t know how to answer our questions by now, and game that then you know they didn’t do the research. But you’d have to do a lot of digging to find this just for a job applicant and we have other ways to filter through those. That’s another reason that we look at culture first.

Skill Sets

[03:52] The third and last reason we look at culture first and probably the most important is, we usually don’t find that we are firing people or that our clients are letting people go based on a skill set issue. Let’s say it’s a social media marketing person. Nobody looks at that person and goes, well, I’ve just found that they are so bad at social media. They can’t schedule their, they can’t do their posts. Their posts aren’t any good. They’re just no good at social media and so we’re going to let them go. It’s normally more of a culture issue. It’s normally, it’s not that they can’t do the social media work, it’s that they have poor scheduling skills, they have poor time management skills, or not great work ethic, whatever it might be. And that’s where you find that you’re going to need to let them go because it’s a mismatch on culture, it’s a mismatch on their needs and what they need to do as an employee in that role.

[04:49] Because the alternative is they’re a great match on culture and you do find, well their skill set for social media is not that great. Well you can talk to them and find out what other role they’re going to be good at and move them to another department or in another role if you have an opening in that position. So, when it’s on skillset, it’s easier to move people around. When it’s on culture, you pretty much have to let them go.

[05:10] If that’s what you’re going to fire people on in the majority of the cases, then that should be the most important hiring trait that you’re looking for in the forefront of your hiring process. Not in the background or non-existent.


[05:24] As a quick recap, why do we look at culture first? Well it’s a lot harder to game the system because you’re matching on culture also, also because we don’t fire people on skillset, we generally fire them on culture issues, work ethic, things like that. In conclusion, think about how you can use culture first in your process to make sure you’re getting the right people on board and in a way that they cannot game the system.

[05:47] Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of The Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoyed this content, please subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud, or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us @epicculture1, or email at podcast@epicculture.co.