Wayne Brophy

Jul 11, 2019

Guilty of this cultural fit hiring mistake?


“You just know.” It’s a typical response I hear from employers feeding back on whether a candidate is a good cultural fit, but it’s one I always push back on. Cultural fit IS important, but it should be about much more than your gut feeling. 

Cultural fit IS still important

71 per cent  of employees would take a pay cut to work for an organisation with similar values

LinkedIn research, via People Management There’s no denying that cultural fit is important. When employees share your values it can improve employee engagement, motivation and even a 36% increase in productivity. And it helps with hiring: your culture is extrinsically linked to your employer brand, so a great culture makes it much more likely that you’ll attract the best talent (and avoid costly mistakes from employees who realise on day three that they don’t see a future with you). In fact, when I speak to candidates they’re not always looking for ‘career progression’ or a salary increase. They may start off saying that that’s what they’re after, but when I dig a little deeper what they’re really telling me is that they want to work somewhere with the right culture.

The majority hire on gut alone

77% measure culture fit by gut feeling alone

via People Management  Human Resources Managers know the importance of cultural fit and hiring managers I speak to know it too, or at least they instinctively do.  However, when I take a job brief from a new client and ask what they are looking for culturally and how they assess it, the responses usually rest on a ‘gut feeling’: “I can’t really explain it very well, you just know.” “I can usually tell instantly whether they’d be a good fit.”

Why culture add is more important than hiring someone you like

I know it’s great to walk into work knowing you can look forward to a few laughs in the day and we all form first impressions of someone. Teams do need to mesh well. However, it can be easy to get caught in the trap of hiring people you like, rather than those that will bring something to the organisation and complement the team. It’s important that any new hire shares your values and aligns with your goals and missions if they are going to succeed. If your company is risk-averse then an entrepreneurially-minded candidate is unlikely to thrive in your business. If you offer a clear and formal career progression path it may not suit someone who values flexibility and craves change. Or if you’re a profit-driven business, someone with an altruistic nature may want to quit on day one. However, it’s very different from asking yourself if a candidate has the right personality or demographic to fit in. If you recruit for cultural add, it embraces a diversity of ideas, directions and perceptions, where people are challenged to think outside their comfort zone - which explains why diverse teams perform better financially. It’s difficult to fall into the trap of recruiting based on gut, or failing to see past a candidate that you don’t instantly click with. However, any decent recruitment consultant should really push you on what your company culture is, and most importantly, how you plan to assess it.  

If you want to hire candidates that will add to your culture (and business growth in the process), then check out our webinar:

Expert advice on interviewing candidates for cultural fit

Eva Adam shares her top cultural fit interviewing tips, drawing on her CIPD Learning and Development qualification and pervious experience of interviewing over 2000 candidates applying for cultural exchange programmes.

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