We’ve all been there.

You recruit a new employee, who seems to be a perfect fit for the job. They have experience in companies just like yours, and they’ve achieved stellar results in the past. But when their probationary period is up, you decide to let them go.

Yes, they did the work, but their heart wasn’t really in it – they just didn’t seem to mesh with the rest of your team.

Why are so many employees great on paper – but don’t pan out in real life?

The truth is that most companies make one huge mistake when recruiting employees. We tend to look for employees who will be competent. In doing so, we forget to examine whether these candidates will be a good cultural fit for our company and whether we actually like them. Without those two factors, new staff are less likely to be engaged with our company, our purpose, or our team. Even if they are technically capable, that is a recipe for disaster.

We have designed a recruitment process that puts an emphasis on competence and compatibility.

To recruit staff who are fully engaged from day one you must first measure whether your candidates fit in with your company values.

To do this, you need a clear vision of what your company’s core values actually are. For our company, it’s “Impact, Fun, Authenticity, Caring, Enthusiasm” – or IFACE for short.

We try to embody these values in everything we do. It is crucial that our new recruits can demonstrate these values, and want to be part of an organisation where these are front and center. That’s why we not only brief our recruiter about the job spec but about the personality and values we want to see in the candidates they put forward. After every interaction with the candidate, we have a clear formula to evaluate the way in which they interact with us. (The gut feeling is not enough.)

In the first interview, we ask candidates questions about our company values. For example:

  • Which of the words do they most identify with, and why?
  • How would they demonstrate some of the values of IFACE in the workplace?

We also set pre-interview questions, like: Where do candidates want to be in three years’ time?

While the answers are rarely disqualifying, they help us understand what excites and motivates our candidates. Are they just interested in money – or do they really share our mission? We get a glimpse of the fire behind their eyes!

The flip side, of course, is that we take pains to demonstrate IFACE in all our interactions with our candidates (and the recruiter). We want to show them exactly what kind of company they might be joining.

So, for example, we are completely open and authentic about who we are and how we operate. We never pretend to be something we’re not (a common trap in the recruitment process for both sides!).

Another secret to our success? Kolbe Scores.

How can you take a similar approach to your own recruitment process?

Get this first stage right, and you’re much more likely to end up with employees who are not just right on paper – but are fully engaged on the job too.