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3 Major Drawbacks of Hiring for “Culture Fit” Alone

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Manish Dudharejia – Founder & CEO of E2M SolutionsHis opinions are his own.

Finding new talent and filling vacant positions is a major undertaking for any team. Although the job market is highly competitive, many companies are still struggling to find adequate candidates to bring onboard. According to CV Library’s report, nearly three out of four hiring teams state that finding qualified talent to fulfil their job openings remains a top challenge.

In addition to looking for applicants who possess the necessary skills and experience needed to excel in the company, recruiters nowadays are also paying attention to the personal traits they add to the mix. Hiring for “culture fit” has been a buzzworthy topic among HR professionals who want to influence the environment of the office through the people they invite to join.

While their intention of influencing the culture of their company is certainly all well and good, many recruiters make the mistake of becoming so focused on finding someone who meets the standards of culture fit that they end up setting the entire organization back.

A company’s culture is certainly influential to the productivity and overall happiness of its workers. Having a highly engaged workplace should be a top priority, but simply hiring someone because they would fit in well with the group is a terrible mistake to make.

Here are three big reasons why.

1. Lack of discipline

When people are hired for “culture fit,” there is a good chance the managers make their choices similar to how they would bring someone new into their circle of friends. When this is the case, it can be tough for managers to crack down on poor performers.

While having personal relationships with coworkers is certainly a benefit, it can make it difficult for HR leaders to take charge and address negative behavior. Since the goal in a business culture should be to consistently improve employee performance, hiring for culture fit can be a deterrent to this.

This is not to say that soft skills should be totally ignored during the hiring process. On the contrary, these competencies are absolutely essential for recruiters to analyze. However, hiring teams need to understand which soft skills are essential for success in the position and which ones are not as important. According to a recent LinkedIn report, the skills that top the list for most recruiters include communication, organization, and ability to work with a team; having a friendly personality is at the bottom of the list.

HR teams must keep the business’s long-term goals in mind as they formulate their recruiting strategies. At the end of the day, a candidate’s personality is only going to get them so far. Though they may be friendly, outgoing, and a fun person to be around, if they are not able to accept criticism or contribute to a more productive work environment, then bringing them on the team could actually have a negative effect on the company as a whole.

2. A homogeneous workforce

Diversity in the workplace is not just limited to ethnicities, genders, and religions.

Another potential problem that could be created by hiring for culture fit alone is that the workplace could become filled with employees with overly similar personalities and work ethics. A healthy workforce needs to be made up of people with different perspectives and approaches to various issues; this is how problems are resolved and new ideas are formed. If the same types of people are being added to the business, it may actually slow down the company’s progress in the long run.

Recruiters should actively search for individuals who have diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and thought processes that could bring a refreshing new approach to the workplace.

3. Letting seriously good talent slip through your fingers

Recruiters must remember that while a candidate’s personality is certainly important, it is not the “be all and end all” for a good talent fit.

Just because the hiring manager may not want to “grab a drink” with a potential employee does not mean that the candidate would not be a valuable addition to the team. In fact, overlooking the kinds of skills that are more essential to success in the workplace in favor of culture fit could be a toxic threat to the company’s bottom line.

Northwestern University conducted a study that surveyed hiring managers who hired based on a candidate’s personality, rather than their hard skills and relevant experience. They found that these decision makers tended to hire the people who were the most like them and who had similar personalities, backgrounds, and hobbies. Essentially, they were hiring their “best friends” rather than the best person for the job. Ultimately, the candidates who were the most qualified based on their skill level were overlooked simply because they didn’t enjoy the same things as the interviewer.

Obviously, this poses as a huge issue that many recruiters face when making a hiring decision: human bias error. It is difficult to separate our own internal preferences from professional concerns when looking for new talent; however, overlooking key factors like the candidate’s professionalism, relevant job experience, and areas of expertise simply because they have a likeable personality could mean that more qualified applicants are turned away.

Conclusion

Choosing a candidate to hire is by no means an easy decision, and hiring managers have to deal with this difficult decision over and over again in a growing business. There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when assessing a potential new hire, and while their soft skills, personality, and potential culture fit should certainly be assessed, this cannot be the sole reason that a person is hired.

If a business wants to maintain a healthy growing culture, it needs to be made of people who have different perspectives and approaches that keep the company growing and refining itself. It is up to HR teams to address this kind of bias in their hiring approaches and make an effort to consider other important qualities that an applicant possesses – beyond just a good personality.

Manish Dudharejia

Manish Dudharejia is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.

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