The culture fit controversy – How should you hire?November 22, 2019 12:02 pm
Recruiters and employers know the difficulty in carrying out a fair, accurate and effective recruitment process. And the current controversy over hiring for ’culture fit’, a concept which has emerged within the last two years, can make the process even more confusing for recruiters. Let us delve deeper into the debate surrounding this new approach to hiring and dispel any myths related to it.
With some tech giants, such as Google, promoting a culture fit approach to recruitment, and others, such as Facebook, banning the term from their hiring process, a controversy regarding the concept has emerged among HR experts. Yet, many opposing opinion articles* regarding the issue actually argue very similar points. Therefore, the problem with culture fit is that there is little consensus on what its definition really is.
So, what is it?
Company culture, or organisational culture, is the unique environment and atmosphere of a business, created by its mission statement, the values of its workers, its history and its management style, to name a few contributing factors. The concept of ‘culture fit’, therefore, refers to hiring people whose values, vision and attitude ‘fit’ the company culture, in the hope that they will fulfil their potential while contributing to the organisation to the best of their ability.
A logical attitude at first glance, but one which has caused much debate, as many fear that hiring for culture fit will result in a homogenous workforce, or even discrimination. They believe that culture fit means hiring employees that have exactly the same mind-set, the same background, the same ideas…
At TeamRH, Recruitment Company based in Paris, we believe that this does not have to be the case. By hiring those who share the company’s values, but who approach tasks in varying ways, culture fit and diversity can coexist to the benefit of your firm. Culture fit is not about whether you and your candidate and would get on socially or whether their background matches yours. It is about whether their values match those of the company and whether their individual skills would complement those values, allowing them to contribute effectively and develop professionally themselves. With this in mind, let us explain how to effectively hire for culture fit.
How to effectively hire for culture fit:
The aim of hiring for culture fit is recruiting people who share certain professional values whilst maintaining differences in other areas, creating a balance between a team which can collaborate and individuals who can innovate. So, how to strike this balance between hiring a candidate with the appropriate soft skills without falling into the trap of unconscious bias?
1. Before starting the recruitment process
Firstly, before starting to assess culture fit, you must clearly establish what your company’s culture consists of. By creating a precise list of company values, you will ensure that you will be hiring with the company in mind instead of your personal interests. This could include the company’s management style, its ethical policies or its stance on teamwork and working individually.
Referring back to this list during the recruitment process will allow you to be able to match a candidate’s soft skills while minimising the risk of subconsciously discriminating against them.
2. The CV
When reading a candidate’s CV for the first time, remember the many things you have to look for. Technical skills, relevant experiences… hiring for culture fit does not mean ignoring these factors. It is one of many factors to consider in the process of recruiting the candidate who is perfect for your firm.
Yet, at the same time, if an applicant’s CV does not quite fulfil all the requirements for the role, do not disregard it straight away. The candidate may later prove themselves to be a perfect culture fit for your firm in interview, and you may be able to offer them a similar role or at least keep in contact with them for future positions.
3. The interview
In order to assess a candidate’s culture fit without letting your unconscious bias interfere, it is essential that you draft your ‘culture fit’ questions beforehand. These will remind you exactly what you’re looking for. For example, you may ask: “Tell me about a boss that you appreciated and another that you did not get on with”. The candidate’s answer should allow you to gauge whether or not they would suit the firm’s management style.
After the interview, consciously reflect on whether or not you are biased towards a candidate. Ask yourself questions such as “Do I like this person because they have a good sense of humour, or because they match our company’s values?” and “Do they have interesting professional experiences which will complement the company’s culture, or do I simply relate to their background?”. In this way, you will recognise your own unconscious bias and take the time to truly evaluate the soft skills and values that prove that a candidate fits your company culture.
You can facilitate the candidate’s integration into the company once they have accepted the job offer. By inviting them into the office for training or taster days, or simply by directing them to videos, testimonials or quizzes on your website, you can make sure that your new employee will be at ease during their first few months with you. Companies such as L’Oréal have even created apps centred on adapting to the company culture – a fun and practical way to ensure a smooth transition to a new workplace.
Looking for a new job? You too are capable of taking control and find somewhere with a company culture that fits your work ethic and values.
Make sure you research the organisation in advance, taking its mission statement, key values, size, diversity policy, etc. into account. In the interview, do not be afraid to ask questions about the company culture if you are still unclear on what the working environment would be like. Determine what works best for you, and be honest with yourself. If you know you prefer a small business with a relaxed environment, do not apply to a large, global law firm!
So, employers and candidates, take the time to recognise your bias and truly determine your needs as a professional during the recruitment process. Culture fit, when defined correctly, allows for a diverse workplace which thrives on collaboration and shared values. The result: a company culture that works, happy employees and a successful business!
*For more information on the culture fit debate, read Forbes’ and the Harvard Business Review’s articles.
TeamRH is a Recruitment Company located in Paris. It is a crucial player in the legal and financial sector. We provide services for our national and international clients, aligning ourselves with their pursuit of excellence.
Another of our defining features is that we attach a great importance to each candidate’s soft skills, or interpersonal skills, with the aim to offer them, as well as our clients, the best candidate/business match possible. Therefore, when sending us your CV, do not hesitate to mention anything which can demonstrate who you are, as well as your technical skills and work experience.
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