Hiring For Cultural Fit Over Skills

Best Practices, Hiring, Recruiting

Originally posted on Peoplefluent.com January 21, 2014. 

Hiring For Attitude Over Skills: The Ultimate Result

medium_2427204663As employers begin hiring for attitude over skill, it makes one wonder what is happening to all of those skilled, experienced workers, who aren’t necessarily a strong cultural fit. Businesses are changing the way they hire and it can put skilled workers at a disadvantage. In the hiring process, cultural fit trumps experience and skills by 7%, which is a narrow, yet still statistically significant margin.

Imagine there are two candidates with comparable emotional intelligence, both of whom would make a solid cultural fit. One of these workers is far more skilled and therefore requires higher pay. The new model of hire would suggest that the less skilled, cheaper candidate would get the job.

There is a good case for hiring based on cultural fit: 

  • Less skilled candidates are initially cheaper.
  • Companies can mold less skilled candidates to fit specific internal needs.
  • Despite a steeper learning curve for less skilled workers, training costs will often cost less than the higher initial compensation package for a more skilled candidate.
  • Strong culture directly correlates with increased retention.

Company rating behemoth, Glassdoor, collected some data on this very subject. They collected 285,000 questions asked by hiring managers, and of those, the top four questions asked during organizational interviews have nothing to do with experience or skill. These questions include:

  • What’s your favorite movie?
  • What’s your favorite website?
  • What’s the last book you read for fun?
  • What makes you uncomfortable?

These are not four random questions or even four personal questions. These are the four top most asked questions in interviews across the companies included in this survey! Logan Hill of Bloomberg Businessweek says:

“This trend leads to job interviews that focus as much on whether a candidate prefers Star Wars or Star Trek as they do on his or her actual qualifications.”

While there are undeniable benefits to a strong cultural fit, it could be that the candidates with advantageous skills are at a disadvantage. Is this related to the fact that workers (both employees and contingent) face a steeper learning curve than anytime in history? Or is it just a reflection of trendy social recruiting fluff?

Cultural fit has been spouted from lecterns at every conference in the last three years, but we all know what happens to trends. It’s not groundbreaking news that it is easier to work with and for emotionally intelligent people. It’s a precept we learned on the playground. But there is another train of thought that insists that diversity is the key to internal innovation. And that is something (according to Universum Global) that the newest crops of workers are actively seeking. Companies who like to hire the blank slate may initially find training easier and their bottom line compensation budgets slashed, but they may also deal with very little diversity and innovation across the board, which is the very thing that has led to the demise of once-vibrant companies just ten years ago. Read more…

photo credit: Emma Swann via photopin cc

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