Are you recruiting for the culture you want or the culture you have?

You can teach a candidate the extra skills they need to excel at the job, but you can’t change their personality.

Recruiting for cultural fit, also known as values based recruitment or behavioural based recruitment. While some of us have been doing it for years it has become a buzz term in certain sectors recently as Management & HR start to realise that when you recruit based on qualifications, skills & experience alone you can can end up with some pretty dysfunctional teams.

When recruiting, employers can make 2 big mistakes;

  • Recruiting based solely on someones qualifications, skills & experience. Sure, they will probably be able to walk in and start working straight away but what if they have zero work ethic & you’re a high performance organisation? What if they have a history of creating mayhem wherever they go & you rely heavily on harmonious teams, what if they have a pretty laid back approach to safety & you work in a dangerous & heavily regulated industry. Hire for attitude, train for skill, because you can’t build a great company without great people.
  • Recruiting to suit the current personalities, even if they are less than ideal, we’ve all been there, making a recruitment decision for an area that is lead by a Supervisor who’s rude, abrupt & generally unpleasant. You have 2 candidates, 1 is perfect in every way; they are highly skilled, emulate the organisations values & have great references, but, their personality would not cope working alongside that particular Supervisor. Candidate 2 could only be described as the best of a bad bunch. They’ve done the job before but their refs suggest theres a lot of room to grow, a few answers at interview gave a hint of performance issues and while they fit some areas of the organisational values you couldn’t really describe them as a good fit. But elements of their personality are similar to the Supervisor and they appear to have a hard personality so you know they will cope better under that leadership, and likely to stay around longer. Instead of performance managing the issues with the Supervisor you continue to hire to suit the culture of that department and ultimately you are left with a toxic team that tends to operate in a silo from the rest of the organisation.

Of course before you can race ahead and start recruiting for cultural fit you need to define your culture, what are the aligned values, beliefs, behaviours and experiences that make up your organisation’s environment? Culture should align with achieving the vision and goals of the company. If the existing culture needs some changes, then so be it. Organisational culture comes about in one of two ways. It’s either decisively defined, nurtured and protected from the inception of the organisation; or–more typically–it comes about haphazardly as a collective sum of the beliefs, experiences and behaviors of those on the team. Either way, you will have a culture. For better or worse.

So why is cultural fit so important for recruiting and retaining great talent? Hiring employees that don’t fit well with the existing or desired company culture leads to poor work quality, decreased job satisfaction and a potentially toxic work environment. This results in turnover which has high costs to an organisation, both financially & by taking a hit to their reputation, and in business reputation is everything.

On the other hand, recruiting employees that fit in well with the culture and share a strong belief in the values will most likely excel within your organisation. Employees who fit well with their organisation, coworkers, and supervisor have greater job satisfaction, are more likely to remain with their organisation, and show superior job performance.

Behavioural based recruitment is rooted in the belief that the single best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Your personality is going to be essentially the same throughout your life. The U.S. Air Force undertook research on personality types that began in the 1950s. For decades, researchers tracked their subjects by observing their behavior and interviewing their families, friends, and colleagues. The conclusion? Basic personality traits did not change, the descriptions were constant.

There has been a lot of discussion amongst business leaders & HR professionals recently about how looking for cultural fit can lead to discrimination against candidates and a lack of diversity. It’s important to understand that hiring for cultural fit doesn’t mean hiring people who are all the same. The values and attributes that make up an organisational culture can, and should be, reflected in a richly diverse workforce.

For example, a company is recruiting for a senior position within a niche industry but 80% of the position function is fairly generic. The organisation has a strategic goal of creating a high performing culture with a focus on exceptional service in order to grow the business. The company should consider candidates from all industries with proven performance in building teams for growth as opposed to putting the recruitment blinkers on and only considering candidates from the very slim niche market, who may understand the in’s & out’s of the industry but are left wanting when it comes to contributing to the strategic vision of the organisation.

If you assess cultural fit throughout the recruiting process, you will hire professionals who will flourish in their new roles, drive long-term growth and success for your organisation, and ultimately save you time and money.

The People & Culture Office can develop a bespoke package of recruitment solutions, including detailed job and person specifications and advertising options.   We can ensure that your newest recruits not only have the necessary skills and experience, but also the right values and attitudes.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more