Case Study: Examining Culture – Digital Marketing Company Breaks Bias in Interview Process

The Challenge

Utah digital marketing company specializes in using SEO, PPC, content strategy, social media, analytics, design, and development to help companies grow their business wanted to examine corporate processes and maximize their ability to attract, evaluate, and hire the best possible individuals to fill open roles

The competitive talent market and the increasing need to bring in top talent for the organization brought discussions of the interview process to the forefront. The leadership team recognized a pattern of feedback on individuals in the interview process who were being turned down due to culture fit and wanted to dive in to determine if bias was playing a role in the decision-making process.

The Solution

In late, 2017, the process of identifying the meaning of a true “culture fit” began. The Apothecarie team met with executive and mid-level leaders across the organization to compile the initial list of characteristics and attributes that they considered to be important in candidates interviewing for roles at the company. Utilizing a series of assessments and evaluations, this list of 40+ attributes was whittled down to 6 attributes that were proven to have a high correlation to performance and retention of employees over time.

These attributes were utilized to construct a scorecard to be used alongside a specific and consistent scenario-based interview conducted with all incoming candidates for corporate roles in the organization. The interview was scripted with a set of questions that allowed the interviewers to score the candidate across the attributes based on their responses to the questions. After completion of the time with the candidate, the interviewers would tally their results and discuss the rationale behind their scoring. Candidates were stack-ranked based on a combination of this culture interview and a technical interview to determine and make offers to the final candidates.

The Result

The concept of hiring for culture fit has become an increasingly challenging and controversial topic in the recruitment space, given the broad definition and ability to use it to conceal the part that unconscious bias plays in the assessment and decision-making process about individuals. As post-hire evaluations were done to correlate back to the initial assessments made regarding culture fit in the interview process, high correlations were found with the top scoring candidates and the highest performing employees. Hiring managers and the recruiting team have adopted this as their consistent practice, realizing the benefit of a group setting, clear criteria, and a repeatable process that allows them space to challenge their biases and look at an individual and the role in a more objective manner.