Hiring For Cultural Fit - It's Sacrificing Short-Term Benefit For Long-Term Gain (Video)


Zappos is one of those companies that seems to get a lot of media attention no matter what they do.

Part of that is because the company has many of the perks that have made so many Silicon Valley tech firms famous (a coffee bar, ice cream parlor, and lots of toys and games), and part is because CEO Tony Hsieh is always focused on doing things differently from other companies.

Here's one example: Zappos stopped posting job openings and instead, the company's Talent Acquisition team only proactively searches for candidates, build networks of possible candidates, and always have a slate or ready candidates available for each hiring manager whenever they have a need arise, according to blogger Tim Sackett.

How Zappos hires for culture fit

Zappos can do this because they have people beating down their door to go work there. And, publicizing things like how they are not going to post jobs anymore just continues to fuel that.

This brings us to the point of all this: that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is probably a guy who has some interesting things to say about recruiting and hiring.


This video from Business Insider, where Hsieh talks to BI CEO and Editor-in-Chief Henry Blodget, is short and sweet (less than 3 minutes) and focuses on, of course, "Making the Right Hires."

First things first, however; Hsieh says that bad hiring has probably cost the company "well over $100 million over the past 11 years," and that's a huge amount of money to peg to bad hiring decisions and practices.

Two ways Zappos works to hire well

In response to the question "how do you hire well?", Hsieh says that Zappos now puts people through two sets of interviews:

  1. The hiring manager and their team interviews for "the standard stuff -- fit within the team, relevant experience, technical ability, and so on."
  2. HR does a separate set of interviews "purely for culture fit, and candidates need to pass both to be hired."

The end result? Hsieh says this:

Zappos has "passed on a lot of really smart, talented people that we know can make an immediate impact on our top or bottom line, but if they're not good for our culture, which is more of a long-term play, then we won't hire them. We're willing to sacrifice the short-term benefits for the long-term gain."

Tony Hsieh has a few more insights on the importance of culture fit in hiring, and although I don't agree with a lot of the silly fads (like holocracy) that he gets involved in, his insights on taking a long-term approach to hiring and abandoning short-term gains for the sake of an organization's culture is pretty spot-on in my book.

If you are looking for a quick peek into why culture fit is so terribly important for an organization, this is for you.

Editor’s Note: The Talent Insider blog is fueled by Checkster, and Checkster has some really great tools — like the Reference Checkup, the Interview Checkup, and the 360 Checkup — that can help you make better talent decisions as you look to bring in people who really fit your company culture.