How Candidates And Employers Can Improve Culture Fit

By Tony Restell

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Catherine Belanger InterviewI recently had the opportunity to interview Catherine Belanger of Catalyst Talent. Catherine's passionate about figuring out ways both candidates and employers can improve culture fit, an especially relevant topic as we all try to recruit / find jobs in this semi-virtual environment!
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Watch the full interview

Here's the full video, a transcript of which follows underneath

Interview Transcript

Really delighted today to be joined by Catherine Belanger.

Catherine's the founder of Catalyst Talent.

Catherine's going to be talking to us today about how companies can hire for good culture fit; and how candidates, in turn, can make sure that they're joining a company where they're going to fit in and really thrive and succeed.

Catherine, thanks so much for joining us today.

Really great to have you on.


Thanks, Tony.

Thanks for having me.


Absolutely, my pleasure.

Do you want to just tell us a little bit about your company? So people know your background.


Sure. So I founded my company about six years ago. Catalyst Talent.

I do talent acquisition consulting, culture consulting.

And I'm also a career coach.

I've been in talent acquisition for about 20 years.

You know, I really fell into it.

My major was psychology in school and I was going to save the world and spent a couple of years there, but wasn't able to do that and just really fell into recruiting and thought, wait, I could help people in this aspect as well.

And really decided to bite the bullet.

Six years ago, I was just so disillusioned with the poor recruiting I saw out there and been thinking I could save the world, I thought, OK, if I can't find one that I really like and believe in and in a genuine way, I'm going to create it myself.

So here I am, trying to recreate and reinvent recruiting.


And I know that the whole culture fit is something you're really passionate about, both in terms of companies making sure they get great hires, but also candidates making sure they join companies where they're going to be successful.

If we think about the company side just for a moment and obviously, particularly with everything that's happened recently.

What are some thoughts you might have around how companies can hire effectively for culture fit?

And what does that actually mean in practice that they might be doing differently?

Sure, I think what's so important, I guess, just from the candidate's side of why I think it's important for the company.

I really represent the candidate's views as a career coach, and I've heard too many times the reasons they're looking to leave when I ask them are leadership and culture and I say, What does that mean to them?

I think we can have a mission statement, we can put words on the wall from the company and say their values.

If they're not walking the walk and talking the talk candidates have been very disillusioned in the past.

I think genuineness, I think hearing from the CEO, I think candidates right now are truly doing their research on Glassdoor comparably, they're going through websites, they are reading leadership bios.

I don't know, if employers realise how much research they're really, really doing.

So from a corporate side, I've seen some companies do some wonderful jobs.

Again, just the genuineness of whether it's videos or on social media or looking at Glassdoor and a CEO, really applying and responding to some, whether they're positive or negative reviews on Glassdoor.

I think what I try to do with my clients is truly talk to them from the perception's reality.

What does your website look like?

What are the videos of the people looking for like?

Can you get more and I really believe in now especially with COVID, can you use more videos.

They're working from home, new employees coming out.

And can they feel comfortable in this environment that they're virtual and getting to know the people?

So I always recommend with my clients.

I do kick off zoom meetings with managers.

Recruiting is all about, yes, bringing people in.

But a lot of times I want to make sure the people that are there are happy.

So I'm also about talent management.

It'll work me out of a job, but I don't want to keep having new people because, 50 to 60% of a hiring salary is what costs with turnover.

So it comes straight down to job descriptions.

What does it look like?

Can we describe the culture in the job description?

I do that quite a bit of having a roundtable with hiring managers.

Why do you stay?

Tell me about that.

Tell me the good, bad, the ugly we're going to talk about it.

There's no perfect company.

So I think that the ones that will engage in this out of the box forward thinking genuineness, really, really survive well and can recruit.

It's a very tough time out there, even though there's unemployment now with people being laid off.

They're being extremely picky.

They're being extremely cautious again from the candidate side.

So, employers I can't say enough spend the time talking about who you are, your leadership, your values.

If we can put a top culture summary in a job description, it's so boring.

Job descriptions are one dimensional.

We all laugh. So are resumes.

We don't want someone to compare and contrast and judge you based on a job description only vice versa from a resume.

And if you were thinking about the market and all the companies you come into contact with, how many, what proportion do you think actually do a really great job with this already and how many have still got a fair way to go?

Well, I hate to say. I only work with small startups and possibly small and midsize, so I'm really in the chaotic times.

So the good news is when I can catch a company early 10 people that you know, the CEOs really invited.

Okay, What can I do?

How can I think about this outside of the box?

They can be open to...

It doesn't have to be a whole big production.

It could be a zoom video or a recording.

So I'm seeing the smaller companies are much more agile and being able to be open-minded.

It really depends on the CEO, Tony.

It depends on who's founding this company. What's important.

If employees are truly important to them, they'll put in the time.

So I do see more of it coming now, especially with the struggles.

I'm consulting with a client right now that we're not getting any responses on the website.

Can you imagine, this is a life science company.

We're not getting anything. We have to think differently.

We have to look at it from the candidates' perspective and once I can talk to someone, I can get them excited.

But I have to have them send me a resume first, and be able to apply to the job.

So I think that's some of the missing link. Just adding personality, plain and simple.

Be genuine, talk about who you are.

As a company, you spend 8-10 hours a day with these people, you want to be with like-minded people... And making sure there's that personality fit. Again from the candidate perspective...

That's what's important to them.

And they will stay.

Yeah, absolutely.

And so if you put the candidate hat on for a moment and you were advising a candidate on what are some things they can do to really try and ensure they're joining a company where they're going to fit in and thrive.

Any particular pointers you would give to candidates?

Sure, I do a deep dive with them; and I do ask, you know What was your favorite job?

First of all. Just even for the holistic view of applying for a job.

Making sure what you see on paper, is that what you want to do every day?

But also what was your leadership? Did you have a chance to have a good leader in the past?

I want to learn all those things.

Those are when I talk to them on their resume, we joke and I say, oh my goodness, I hear this passion, and the energy, and you're so excited, and you're so dedicated.

How do you talk about that in a one dimensional piece of paper?

So for them, and also, did you do your research? Tell me what you learned about the company.

Why did you pick that company? Do you know people there?

I think a lot of times what I've learned, unfortunately,

is people go for an interview and we can talk about ghosting a whole 'nother thing. They go in front of the interview and think that they have the job and be able to apply and meet everyone.

Obviously, only one person gets that job.

There might be 5, 10 candidates in line.

The candidates also then come back and they think if they haven't heard back or been able to close the door of that company.

The next time that person applies or looks at a job for that company, they're going to think twice of how they were treated.

So, it's absolutely a holistic approach when you're applying for a job, wanting to know about the company.

But also, I go back on the client-side, you need to show them something.

I call it, the 'whooing', it's like dating.

Okay, let's be really honest.

You're looking at a job description, just like people are on internet dating now.

You're looking at something and you're looking at the company and seeing if there's that culture fit.

Candidates, I don't think always also ask.

It's OK to say, why do you stay? Can I ask a few questions? Obviously appropriately.

Making sure that there's a pause and you've let that person talk about them.

But I think there should be some two-way streets, an interview is a two-way street, especially now, even more so. And candidates will work so much harder for you if you believe in them, and you're giving them an opportunity.

to feel like they have a seat at the table, that their opinion counts.

It's truly as simple as that. It's not just a beautiful office space, or free lunch or a cappuccino maker.

It's the little things that candidates are truly looking for.

And I can, as a coach.

I try to inform the clients.

These are the things that are so, so important to them and to be able to have a really good, and I only try to put my name on high achievers.

So we're picky.

I want the best.

I want people that are looking to make a difference.

To make an impact.

And so, candidates have to stand out for themselves as well.

Terrific advice, Catherine. Thank you ever so much.

I'm really conscious of time.

But if people would like to find out more, either you know their companies wanting help with recruiting in this way or candidates wanting to get more guidance.

Do you have a website you could share or any or any other contract information?

Yes, I do. It's You can read about me there.

Obviously, it's an open book, an open forum.

Look me up on LinkedIn.

See if my style resonates with you.

Again, it's something that I try to be very genuine and direct and transparent.

We're all too old to have a job at a pony show, as I joke.

This is the real me, and I'm here to help people and truly want to do that for all the right reasons.

And I believe in good karma and paying it forward.

So, happy to help when I can.


Well, thank you ever so much for your time.

Have a great rest of the week, everyone.

Thank you, you too. Take care. Bye for now. Bye-bye.

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