How to get cultural fit right when recruiting a sales team

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In any successful real estate team, a healthy team culture is usually a paramount factor in that success. We’ve talked about developing a great team culture previously, but of course a huge part of that is going to be the people who make up your team.

If the people you hire have values that don’t gel well with those you want for your team, then that could be described as a poor cultural fit. Conversely “cultural fit” means finding the right person for the right job, who fits in with the mission, values and overall culture of the company.

How do make sure you are recruiting those who will bring a good cultural fit to your team? We have a few thoughts here:

What Cultural Fit Is Not

Cultural fit is not about having a team where everyone thinks the same way and has the same kind of background culturally. In fact, this has been an ongoing criticism of teams in Silicon Valley, investment banks and other workplaces who have prized “like minded” hires as being a good cultural fit.

Like minded is one thing, but what happens if everyone does think exactly the same way? What happens when “cultural fit” strays into criteria like “went to the same school as me,” “likes the same football team,” or “great to have drinks with after work”?

Lauren Rivera says that while hiring for cultural fit can make workplaces more productive and profitable, when those other factors, which are more about commonalities, come into the equation, it becomes a potentially dangerous concept.

Why? You run the risk of creating a homogenous team based on the snap judgements of someone thinking about who they’d rather hang out with. This is not good news for creating a successful team as research shows that diverse teams tend to perform better due to a tendency to process information more carefully.


“Out of group” newcomers consistently lead to higher performance. Source: Kellogg Insight

The lesson? Cultural fit is important but don’t let it become “is the same as the rest of the team.”

[tweetthis]Cultural fit is important but don’t let it become “is the same as the rest of the team.”[/tweetthis]

How To Get Cultural Fit Right

So we’ve established that diversity is still an important factor when it comes to hiring for cultural fit, but how can you go about bringing the right people into your real estate team without falling into the homogenous trap?

Making the right hiring decisions is crucial, not only for having a successful team overall, but for saving your business the high costs of recruiting and training when those who are a poor fit inevitably turn over. Research shows that across the U.S.A., more than half of all job turnover tends to come from employees who have been with the company for less than 12 months.


Source: Talx

Here’s how you can find the right mix of team members:

#1. Separate Person And Job

Always keep in mind the potential of the candidate to do the job well first. Does their work background and skills match up with what you need on the job? Keep that in mind if you’re inclined to bring them in because you like them personally. It’s not that liking them is never ok, it’s that you should prioritize skills and attitude first.

#2. Showcase Your Culture

If you do a good job of showcasing the culture and values of your real estate team, you will tend to attract applicants who self-select as a good fit for your team. If you think about workplaces with famously fantastic cultures (Google, Facebook, REI …), they tend to be flooded with applicants who would like to get in on their high-performing teams.

If you have developed a great culture for your real estate team, share this information whenever you can. For example, you could go “behind the scenes” including after-work events or team meetings on social media, or you could showcase people who work for you and how they go about performing well in their roles.

It is worth having a well-developed “about our team” section on your website, especially in conjunction with any advertised vacancies you have. Share your values, goals and mission statement so that prospects can identify whether their own values are a good match. In this section you should also include descriptions, even quotes from team members about what it is like to work for you.

Another key aspect of company culture is the kind of support systems you have in place for your team. This can be a point that helps you to stand out from competitors – applicants want to know that they will be well-supported and have things such as technology systems to help them do their jobs.

#3. Use Personality Assessments

You will probably have a list of traits that are necessary to perform each job role well. For example a good sales agent should be adaptable, communicative, proactive and confident. You may also be interested in leadership and decision-making skills, depending on the level of responsibility you’re looking to hire for.

Personality assessments such as the Myers-Briggs indicator, DISC or AVA can be valuable tools in your recruitment process, helping you to get a picture of whether or not an applicant meets the traits you are looking for.

Real estate firm Keller Williams is big on using both DISC and AVA in its screening of job candidates. As one of North America’s largest franchisors, they have developed a process which all of their hiring managers go through training to implement, and they find, works well for their business in choosing employees who are a good fit.

#4. Don’t Stick To Scripts

Scripts for interview questions have their place in making sure you don’t leave out anything important, but if you stick entirely to the script, you risk that you’ll just get the kind of rote answers that all job candidates tend to practice.

There are a couple of thoughts for going off-script:

  • Ask different kinds of questions, even those which may be unexpected. As long as you don’t ask anything that would be in breach of employment laws, you can ask anything that gives you a real impression of who they are as a person. These kinds of questions could even develop as a result of the answers you received from your regular questions.
  • Let the applicant guide a lot of the conversation—this gives you the chance to see how well they are able to hold a conversation without being directed. You’re going to want people who are comfortable leading conversation in your agent roles.

Overall, you’re looking to test out that the prospect can meet the skills needed for the job in an impromptu situation—exactly what they will need when dealing with your clients.

Final Thoughts

Hiring for cultural fit, particularly when it comes to shared values, is important for the success of your real estate team.

Where cultural fit can go wrong is when hiring managers hire people because they like them personally, or share background traits with them. This can lead to homogenous teams, which have been shown to not perform as well.

A diverse team should be your aim if you want to see high performance. Hire those who share your values and have the right traits to do the job, but don’t limit yourself to the types of people you can see yourself having a beer with.

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