The New Hiring Mantra: Finding Candidates With Great Cultural “Fit”

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Feb 20, 2015
This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.

Editor’s Note: Readers sometimes ask about past TLNT articles, so every Friday we republish a Classic TLNT post.

On average, people spend nine (9) hours of their day at work.

Projecting this over an entire lifetime, we face a very big, somewhat scary number. When you consider this number, it should become incredibly and inherently clear just how crucial finding a company that really fits can be.

Being happy and satisfied with your job makes you more productive and allows you to maximize your potential. While we can all agree on the importance of cultural fit in achieving happiness and satisfaction, it’s a little surprising to hear the truth about how fit companies really are.

The growing importance of company culture

Historically, the primary focus in recruitment processes has been on job fit. The company’s main concern was to assess the intersection of an employee’s abilities, needs and experience, and the requirements of a particular job.

Recently, company culture has taken on a more important role, and this isn’t just a media phenomenon. An international study by Cubiks that researched the role of cultural fit in more than 500 companies from 54 countries proves that it’s a trend that should not be ignored.

The numbers speak for themselves: 82 percent of the companies say that measuring cultural fit is important and almost 100 percent of all respondents agree that cultural fit is not just a buzzword.

Recall that the concept of cultural fit is very complex. While the term seems to have become ubiquitous in the recruiting industry, it means more than just a candidate’s personality that somehow thrives in a certain company environment. It is the convergence of a candidate’s motivations, abilities and personality that will lead to ultimate fit between the person, the culture and the job.

A few findings of this survey really gave me the chills when reading it.

Half say they don’t have a defined corporate culture

An overwhelming majority of the survey respondents (82 percent) said that measuring cultural fit is an important part of the recruitment process. Furthermore, 86 percent of the survey takers agreed that organizational culture helps differentiate the company from competitors, which naturally would lead to a company wanting to protect it. Additionally, 75 percent of the respondents said that cultural fit predicted performance well to very well.

So far so good, but here come the chills: Just over half of the respondents said that their organization doesn’t have a clearly defined corporate culture. This implies that recruiters and hiring managers try to measure something that is not clearly defined to them.

Defining and understanding a company’s own culture is the essential first step in order to be able to assess cultural fit and quite frankly to measure it. Unfortunately, despite recognizing how important this step is, only a third of the respondents currently measure cultural fit in their recruiting process. This is most likely an outcome of not knowing their own culture, which reflects a high degree of inexperience.

The survey also researched how cultural fit is measured. Among the top three most useless measures are CVs (including qualifications and experience), references and skill sets. Not surprising to me.

While face-to-face interviews, personality questionnaires and assessment centers are used in most of the cases to evaluate cultural fit, recruiters would actually prefer using a an assessment tool that is not used commonly right now: Cultural questionnaires.

More rejections for a lack of “cultural fit”

This, however, has several implications.

First, a large number of applicants are rejected in the selection process simply because only a small number of applicants can actually be invited to an interview. Second, recruiters and hiring managersassess cultural fit mostly in face-to-face meetings without a clear approach for measurement and often without clarity of their own corporate culture. This leads to the one thing recruiters and hiring managers want to avoid: subjectivity in the recruiting process.

Bottom Line: 59 percent of the test companies said they have rejected a candidate because they lacked cultural fit. Therefore, the movement has started and candidates are being hired (or fired) based on cultural fit.

What is needed besides a clear definition of a company’s culture is an objective assessment that is tied into the complete HR lifecycle of the company. Only a robust and effective approach like this will allow recruiters and hiring managers to achieve more objective hiring processes and talent management. Plus, it is not only more effective, it is less time consuming and much cheaper than traditional hiring methods.

Is your company fit when it comes to Cultural Fit? Let us know in the comments, we’d be happy to hear your story!

This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.