Stop Recruiting for Fit and Do This Instead


Organizations have been using fit as a metric to identify the best candidate for a role. Cultural fit assesses how well the potential candidates aligns to your existing culture and the likelihood that if the candidate is given the job, they will successfully acclimate to your culture. 

Managers who are recruiting based on fit identify commonality of shared experiences, and likeability…how well I like this person and how well I think this person will fit in our organization. They make judgments based on their gut about the individual's ability to mesh well in their organization. Sometimes these snap-judgment and hiring for commonality to align with the existing culture fit of the team and the organization poses risks. We can look at numerous examples of a culture gone wrong, such as the Wells Fargo scandal where employees were creating fraudulent accounts. 

Besides the risk of fit leading to snap judgment, fit can lead to unintentional bias (or the bias trap as described by Facebook) and exclusion of qualified candidates. Managers who hire for fit hire individuals with similar experiences and background that they connect with, yet, this individual may not be the most qualified based on skills and abilities for the role. Fit becomes a process of weeding out candidates whose experience are different than the majority of employees at your organization. With the risks that fit poses to an organization, fit continues to be used as a metric, and the deciding factor of who gets hired in 80% of the organization. 

In organizations that are attempting to shift their business model and keep up with the pace of changes occurring in their industry, fit would prove to be challenging again, as it aligns back to the way we do things around here, while an organization in transformation is shifting the way they are doing things overall. 

Hiring for fit against the roles in the future becomes much more difficult to do as the comparative baseline used to determine fit no longer exists. The jobs of the future are continuously evolving and will require candidates with unknown skills and the ability to execute during times of uncertainty and change. As jobs continue to evolve, the measure for fit using commonality disappears and becomes even harder to establish. Therefore, shifting your perspectives about fit is critical to the success of your business. 

Define Your Core Values 

When interviewing for fit, align fit to your organizational value. Ensure that you have clearly define what your organizational values are and have communicated your organizational value throughout the company. For example, if your company values innovation, make sure that you embrace candidates who like to create new processes; or if you value collaboration, make sure that your candidate has a preference for working with others. 

Additionally, ensure that your systems are set up to embrace the values that you hire for.   Pay attention to your message.  Don't communicate that you value collaboration and when a person takes the job your culture promotes individualism in its systems and rewards structure.

Ensure that Recruiters and Managers understand how the role aligns with your organizational values. If necessary, incorporate the values into your job description, and interviewing packets. Create a consistent framework that assesses how each candidate fits as determined by the values you measured them on.

Provide Training for Recruiters and Managers

Recruiters and Managers should participate in training on unconscious bias. The way our brain work is to make fast judgments, take mental shortcuts so that we can process more decisions. However, during the interview process, this results in the interviewer looking for queues to classify candidates as friend or foe, ingroup or outgroup, and good fit or poor fit. Researchers found that “Interviewers look for a sense of connection, often seeking potential friends and “playmates” rather than those with the best work experience or job-relevant skills”

Move from Fit to Add

Similar to living a healthy lifestyle, moving from culture fit to culture add will improve your organization tremendously. Culture add is dynamic and allows us embraces the differences of our prospective candidates. It demonstrates the organizations and candidate’s agility. Culture add allows Recruiters and Managers to embrace diverse perspectives and thinking, it eliminates groupthink, and embraces individuals with backgrounds different than their own. Assessing candidates for culture add builds on the existing capabilities of the organization by having the candidates add onto what’s already existing, rather than being the exact same clone of the existing workforce. 

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Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst