When is Hiring for Cultural Fit a Bad Thing?

Hiring for cultural fit is a big buzz in the HR and Recruiting communities. Companies want to know that their investment in an employee will be with someone who fits in well with their current staff and has similar personality patterns and motivations. And this is a fair assessment in most cases. But what happens when cultural fit is used inappropriately to keep out individuals who would otherwise be perfectly qualified for the position? Is cultural fit ever used as an excuse to discriminate? It sometimes is, and it is critical that companies understand the difference before they make an important hiring decision.

Hiring for Fit as a Means to Discriminate

The unfortunate pitfall of hiring for “fit” at every turn is that many employers use this as a veiled excuse to discriminate against candidates. This could be based on race, gender, class, or education. Anything that may violate federal law regarding equal opportunity employment can be a problem long term. Other companies have an idea that they want to hire someone who has the personality profile that fits the rest of their team, but in doing so they only create a culture of one type of motivation. They may be missing out on individuals who can think about problems differently or approach their job in a way that will actually be beneficial for everyone in the company.

So how do you solve this? Here are some ways to ensure that your company culture isn’t an excuse for discrimination or harming your overall productivity.

  • Clearly define your company culture. The biggest challenge companies have is determining the company culture on the fly while reviewing resumes. They may determine they have a “gut feeling” about someone without having a clear idea of how or why they wouldn’t be a good fit. Instead, make sure you’ve established your cultural identity before any hiring processes begin so you can measure each resume against the same metric.
  • Measure the results of your hiring programs. Not only do you need to measure your candidates against the same qualifications, but you should be measuring the success of your hiring program in general. Track turn over and promotions. Look at how each employee fits into the puzzle that makes up your company. See commonalities that might help you determine how cultural fit plays into the success of your team.
  • Take time to challenge the notion of fit for each candidate. Each time you review a candidate, don’t just separate into a Yes or No pile. Review each qualified candidate against the metrics that you have established. What is making you hesitant about hiring someone? Yes, a super laid back candidate may not do well in an environment where process is king, but that doesn’t mean that every super laid back candidate is the same.

Do you have questions about hiring for cultural fit and when it is or isn’t appropriate? We have recruiting offices located in Phoenix, Denver, Los Angeles and Orange County who can help you make the right hiring decisions, so call us today! 

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