Hiring for culture fit? Start by planning for a roadtrip

Who should you add to your team: the superstar with great skills who feels like a poor culture fit, or the person with weaker skills but who is a stronger culture fit? 

Hiring decisions are like going on a roadtrip. Who do you allow to ride in your car? Perhaps you’ve found someone known for their driving skills, but more importantly, would you let them in without confirming how they will behave? That can ruin things for everyone halfway in – and it has for so many teams who’ve hired the wrong person.

It’s no wonder 90% of employers say it is very important to find candidates who are a good cultural fit. Yet at the same time, as many as 73% of professionals report having left a job because of poor cultural fit. 

We all understand fit is important, but it seems something in the way we currently hire for fit isn’t working.

Every hire you make shapes future culture; if you aren’t paying attention, culture shapes itself and often in ways you don’t want it to. When managers try to hire for fit, they focus on whether candidates align in terms of the values, norms, and behaviours – mostly intangible things. Unfortunately, in the recruitment process, there just isn’t enough time to objectively and accurately gain these insights. That’s why 2 out of 3 professionals feel they have been misled about company culture during their induction.

Without the right tools, managers end up hiring on gut without being equipped to confirm the facts.

Assess cultural fit and technical skills separately, in order to minimise risk and spot red flags early. Some companies make a point of screening for cultural fit, before even bothering with the technical fit interview, on the basis that it’s a waste of time otherwise. 

What due diligence can you do before deciding on your next hire?

  1. Make sure your job description articulates both technical skills and behavioural requirements
  2. Obtain objective insights on candidates’ behavior, values and culture style.
  3. Assess candidates’ interactions with other employees (e.g. via group/communicative exercises)