The black and white aspects of hiring make staffing-up seem easy. Does the candidate have the education you’re looking for? Check. Do they meet your job experience criteria. Check. Do they have the hard skills you want? Check. But, as anyone who has ever hired someone knows, there’s more to making a successful hire than finding someone with the right requirements.
The grey area lies in hiring people that gel with your brand, selecting candidates who will thrive with your company, and identifying the applicants who will excel in your environment. We were lucky enough to chat with Zuleika Sgro, VP of People at Saje Natural Wellness, and get the inside scoop about the challenges of hiring for cultural fit and how to make the best decisions for who will join your team.
Style Nine to Five: Hello! Thanks so much for talking with us! Let’s dive in and discuss how much cultural fit matters in successfully filling a role?
Zuleika Sgro: The notion of “cultural fit” has really evolved over the years. The idea that someone needs to “fit” a certain type doesn’t follow the way we think now. Instead, the hiring process needs to feel more inclusive, and it’s shifted to focus more on finding a shared sense of values between candidate, company, and customer. What’s important for one should also be important for the other. For us, that revolves around a passion for natural wellness, balance, calm, and sustainability. When there’s an alignment of values, it makes the candidate feel like they can succeed.
SNTF: That’s a great way to re-frame it. Thinking now of looking for shared values vs. fit, let’s talk about the early parts of the hiring process: the resume and cover letter stage. How do you identify applicants who appear to align with your brand values?
ZS: The candidates that stand out are the ones who consider how you, the hiring manager, will experience their application. How is it customized to your brand? Why do they want to work for your company? What experience do they have with your product? If it’s tailored to your brand, you can see that someone has really taken the time. I look for people who sound like they already work for us. I also recognize that not everyone has the ability to write the perfect resume and cover letter, but I look for how they’re making a connection.
SNTF: When someone moves into the interview stage, what do you look for to determine if there’s that value alignment that you’re looking for?
ZS: I like to have a consistent set of questions and turn the interview into a very open-ended conversation. Having a set structure lets hiring managers focus more on creating conversation, which lets you find out more about how their values connect with your brand.
At Saje, we also try to actually do the job with someone through shadowing and interacting with as many team members as possible. It’s a real-life preview for both parties to see if the relationship feels comfortable and natural for both the candidate and the company.
SNTF: What happens when you’ve hired someone that ultimately doesn’t work out with Saje?
ZS: More often than not, it happens when you don’t share similar values, and it’s usually a mutual feeling that you can both sense. Often, when it doesn’t work out it’s because it wasn’t what the person thought it would be like, which is why we invest in shadowing and letting candidates meet other members of the team. We also have an organization where our employees are welcome to speak out and perhaps we can think of another role for them.
SNTF: Can someone be trained to find that sense of alignment, or is it just a natural quality that they need to have?
ZS: You can absolutely train the right person if there’s skill and will. A sense of curiosity and interest are essential qualities in finding people who will succeed. We have a much higher retention rate when we can find someone who has really bought in and is invested in learning about the brand and representing the company in whatever role they have.
There we have it—insider advice from a brand that’s successfully merged candidate and company values and has created a hiring process to draw those connections out rather than focusing on finding a specific “fit.” Treating applicants like worthwhile individuals and encouraging them to use their own voice has proven to be a successful formula for Saje Natural Wellness. Food for thought in 2021: how can you modernize your company’s hiring process to reflect your own unique values, promote inclusivity, and attract candidates that are equally invested in what you do?
If you’re struggling with finding the right hires or want help streamlining your own hiring systems, Style Nine to Five’s Recruiting Services give you the assistance you need. Whether it’s candidate screening or conducting interviews, Founder, Christie Lohr, becomes an ambassador for your brand to attract the candidates that are destined for success with your company.
To explore careers at Saje Natural Wellness, visit their career page.
By: Jeanine Gordon – Jeanine is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for creating stellar content for global brands and small businesses alike – specializing in fashion, beauty, and
Feature Images: Adobe Stock