We have all heard it. Whether you have been the candidate, recruitment consultant, internal talent manager or someone who is part of the interview process, we have all heard the interview feedback, ‘They’re just not quite the right fit’. Other examples might include, ‘They just don’t fit in with the client and what the client needs’, ‘The cultural fit is not right’, ‘We can’t see them fitting into the team’, and the list goes on and on.
Much like people, every individual organisation has a defined set of characteristics, or rather, a ‘personality’ that makes up its business culture. When organisations bring on new hires, they’re looking for people who agree with and fit in with their agenda – in other words, they’re looking for people who are a match for the company culture.
When a new hire shares similar fundamental values, beliefs, and goals with their business, they’re considered a cultural fit. While it seems like a simple idea, the key to understanding cultural-fit hiring is knowing that it doesn’t mean recruiting identical people. Hiring for cultural fit is meant to result in a diverse and effective workforce; however, when this isn’t done effectively, it can do more harm than good to your organisation.
In this Insight, we discuss the pros and cons of hiring for cultural fit and how it can impact your business.
Pro: Engaged Employees
It’s no secret that high levels of employee engagement are crucial for business success, and when an employee’s values align with those of their company, they’re more likely to be satisfied in their roles and remain invested for the long haul.
Employees who are in jobs that are a good fit for their personality are one thing, but when the overall company culture reflects their personality as well, they naturally become more confident in their role and work harder to achieve the desired results.
Pro: Saves Money
Every organisation wants to save money where it counts and hiring for cultural fit can help make that happen when it’s done correctly.
When there is an effective culture fit in place, employees will want to stick around because they feel they’re benefitting from a role they enjoy in a company they mesh with. This means that when you hire a qualified employee who also fits your company culture, you’re hiring for the long term, ultimately helping to reduce turnover rates and lower recruiting costs.
Pro: Company Promotion
When an employee feels at home in their organisation, they’re more likely to personify and promote the core values of your company to friends, family, and co-workers. Not only does this help with your organisation’s reputation as being a good employer and increase business morale, but it also helps in attracting fresh talent.
Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and when employees are happy with their company, they’re going to talk about it, which in turn, is certain to spark the curiosity of job seekers who are also looking to feel valued in the workplace.
Con: Low Retention
While hiring for cultural fit can save organisations money in recruiting costs, it can also have the opposite effect when it’s implemented poorly.
If your organisation doesn’t have a good understanding of the realityof its own culture – which means how the company culture appears to employees rather than what’s outlined in your values and mission statement – you might find that your employees aren’t as great a fit as you thought they’d be.
While there’s never any concrete assurance that a new hire will stay, when employees feel like they’re not a fit to company culture, or feel like they’ve been misled in the hiring process, they’ll more often than not choose to leave.
So, if your company relies heavily on hiring for cultural fit, and you’re seeing significantly low employee retention rates, it might be time to re-evaluate how you see your company culture – or to change your recruitment process.
Con: Focus on Personality
Too often, businesses make the mistake of choosing an applicant based on their personal traits rather than focusing on their skills and qualifications during the interview process.
Hiring an employee simply because they have similar values to your organisation is like hiring the same person repeatedly – cutting out a lot of opportunity for diversity that creates a balanced and efficient company culture in the first place.
By focusing more on personality than education and experience, organisations lose a well-rounded perspective in their company culture and even risk creating a bias against future hires who don’t necessarily fit the mould as well as others do.
Con: False Pretence
While job applicants can seem like a great cultural fit for your business, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are.
In the age of technology, with so much information at our fingertips, it’s easy for candidates to research your organisation to understand its values and then imitate the qualities they believe you’re looking for in the interview.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re being dishonest; it might just mean that they’re embellishing for the sake of a good interview in hope of having a better chances to being hired.
While some may call this preparation, the issue at hand is that focusing too much on what someone says in an interview is risky – meaning concrete evidence of their experience is necessary to properly reflect on whether they’ll be a good cultural fit and a good hire in general.
1. Study Your Current Business Culture
Review the level of inclusion and diversity in your business, and make sure that your company’s values allow room for your employees to grow. If your employees have the opportunity to grow, then your company will too, and you’ll be more likely to attract the right candidates from the start.
2. Be Open to Transformation
Things change fast and frequently in the working world, and job seekers want to work for companies that keep up with modern workplace tactics. Being open and flexible to changes will make your organisation more appealing, making applicants all the more eager to work for you.
3. Ask the Right ‘Cultural Fit’ Questions
A company’s culture is the ecosystem of the entire organisation and needs to run efficiently for businesses to develop and remain competitive. So, asking the appropriate questions to gauge how well they’ll fit in is key to finding the ideal candidate.
4. No Guarantee, but Signs of Success
No matter how effective your organisation’s recruitment tactics are, there’s never a guarantee an employee will live up to expectations – even if they seem to be the perfect cultural fit. You’ll know you’re on the right track, however, if you see a diverse, unified, and happy set of employees who are motivated to help achieve business objectives.
How to make sure candidates are a good cultural fit
Increasingly, businesses are recruiting for attitude and fit with the organisational culture in addition to looking for the best skills. That’s because there’s a growing understanding that people who have the right approach are more likely to be successful in the role and bring value to the business – and additional skills can always be learned.
A critical question for hiring managers is, ‘How can I tell if a candidate is a good fit for my culture?’ Fortunately, you can use the interview and selection process to help you see whether candidates are going to work both within your general culture and within the culture of the team or department you are hiring for.
What does ‘cultural fit’ look like?
The first thing to do is understand what ‘cultural fit’ means to your organisation. Without defining the type of people and approach that your business prefers, you’ll be unable to ask the right questions or to assess whether a candidate will be a good or bad hire. So, at the very least, have a checklist of the attitudes and attributes that you feel will make a good employee. These might include:
- Innovative thinking
- Willingness to take risks
- Understanding of collaboration
- Prioritising particular ethics such as inclusivity or environmental concerns
- Ability and approach to working with others
Once you have a clear idea about what you want to see in a candidate, you can start to design questions to give you an understanding of what each candidate is about. You might want to refine your list to reflect the actual role you’re recruiting for, as well as the culture of the wider organisation. You should also include a couple of questions about the candidate’s leadership style, if that’s appropriate, and about their expectations of leadership in your business.
Some sample culture questions
Here are some great questions to begin understanding cultural fit:
’How do your co-workers feel about working with you?’
’Tell us about a time when you worked successfully as part of a team.’
’Describe your leadership style.’
’What kind of work culture makes you happy and productive?’
Understanding whether candidates are going to be a good fit with your business is a crucial part of your recruitment process. When you work with us, we build this into the early assessment process to help deliver high-quality final candidates. It should also form part of your standard interview approach – at every role level – to ensure that you are bringing the right people into your teams and making the most of your recruitment budget.
Get in touch today (email@example.com) to find out how we can help you find candidates that are a good cultural fit for your business.← Back to all articles