By Angela Rose for BioSpace
Have you ever tried to shop for groceries without a list? Even the best planners among us have had to do so at one time or another, usually with similar results. While we remember some of the items we need, we inevitably find ourselves at home unloading bags of snacks we’ve been craving—and without the one ingredient that is absolutely essential for tonight’s dinner. Time to order a pizza.
Fortunately, most of us are wise enough to avoid taking the same haphazard approach when recruiting candidates for biotech and pharma jobs. We carefully construct our list of “must haves,” filling it with the credentials, skills and experience we know any strategic markets manager, scientific writer, or principle scientist will need to succeed in the position. But there’s still one ingredient far too many recruiters and hiring managers forget: cultural fit.
According to the results of a recent survey by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service, 64 percent of the managers who responded reported they had misjudged a candidate’s fit with their organization’s work environment. Sixty-six percent admitted that their companies have lost employees because they were not suited to the culture. This employee turnover is inevitably hurting their bottom line. Research by the Society for Human Resource Management has found that replacing an employee can cost from 50 to 60 percent of the position’s annual salary.
It’s time to start hiring winners and stop wasting time onboarding job seekers who are a mismatch with your company culture and work environment. Consider these suggestions to help you determine which candidate is the perfect fit.
1. Look at former employers.
Let’s say you’re running a small life science startup and are considering two candidates. One’s experience has been limited to large biopharma organizations. He or she has never worked for a smaller company like yours, but he or she has all the skills and credentials listed on your shopping list. The other is missing a skill or two but has spent their time working for smaller pharma employers. Because the culture at large and small companies can be quite different, the second candidate may actually be your best option. You can help him or her acquire new skills, but you likely cannot change the other candidate’s cultural preferences.
2. Look at previous (and ideal) environments.
If you want to fill your company with engaged employees who love their jobs and would never dream of leaving, you need to choose candidates who can not only succeed in, but actually want to work in, the type of environment you’re offering. Make sure you’re asking questions about their previous work environment and their ideal work environment.
• Have they generally worked alone or on a team?
• Which do they prefer?
• Have they relied heavily on supervisor guidance or were they self-directed?
• Which makes them most comfortable?
• What did they enjoy the most about their previous job?
• What did they dislike the most?
• What are they looking for in a supervisor?
• What are they looking for in a colleague?
These and similar interview questions are invaluable for assessing cultural fit.
3. Include others in the interview process.
Two—or even three or four—opinions are almost always better than one when it comes to choosing a candidate who matches a job culture. Once you’ve narrowed the field down to a handful of professionals, give them the opportunity to interact with others at your company. Include the people they will report to in the position, one or two of the employees who will be their peers, and—if applicable—a few of the people who will report to them. This will obviously take more time than a single interview, but the feedback you’ll receive on each possible hire is more than worth it if it keeps you from making a costly recruitment mistake.