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The 5 pitfalls of hiring for culture fit

Written by Rhiân Davies

On its own, the idea of assessing candidates for culture fit is great. You want to create a positive working environment, which means the candidates you hire should fit in with your organizational culture and align with your values.

Sounds simple, right?

However, over the years, and with its rise in popularity, culture fit has attained almost buzzword status. Rather than just being one of many factors involved in hiring decisions, many companies have begun to prioritize hiring for culture fit above assessing candidates on their skills and job experience. 

Putting too much emphasis on hiring for culture fit can have disastrous hiring consequences.

Here, we go through five of the main drawbacks of hiring for culture fit and outline how to assess culture effectively during the hiring process.

What is “culture fit”? 

Hiring for culture fit involves assessing how well a candidate will assimilate into the existing culture of a workplace, which includes an appraisal of how well they align with your company’s mission, values, and beliefs. 

It also considers how well a potential hire will get on with existing employees, teams, and departments. Many have described a good culture fit as “someone who you’d enjoy having a beer with.” 

But culture fit does not consider a candidate’s skills, experience, or any other quantifiable information. 

5 drawbacks of hiring for culture fit 

While taking culture fit into consideration isn’t bad in and of itself, it’s often not carried out in a fair or meaningful way. In fact, hiring someone based primarily on culture fit can negatively affect your company as a whole.

Let’s take a look at how hiring for culture fit does more harm than good. 

image listing drawbacks of hiring for culture fit 

1. It leads to a homogenous workforce 

Hiring for culture fit can have a negative impact on diversity in the workplace since it may lead to hiring very similar people. This may lead to a homogenous workforce in terms of personality types, as well as in terms of background, ethnicity, and gender. 

A healthy, productive workplace consists of people with differing perspectives, backgrounds, and approaches to work. Since experts believe that diversity in the workplace can drive innovation, consistently hiring the same type of people limits a company’s ability to progress and grow. 

2. It can be a root cause of low employee retention 

If companies don’t have a good grasp of the realities of their existing workplace culture, or if what’s in their mission statement doesn’t align with the actual company culture, how can they accurately hire for culture fit? 

What companies sell as their company culture can often be vastly different in reality. This misalignment can lead to high employee turnover, since the people you hire may have accepted a job offer on the basis of an entirely different type of company culture. And, since candidates value company culture over compensation, they’re highly likely to leave if they don’t feel like they fit in. 

3. It’s overly focused on the candidate’s personality 

While considering personality types is important, hiring similar types of people over and over again doesn’t make for a balanced, well-rounded organization. Organizations that are serious about hiring the right candidates must also consider using other pre-employment screening tests to gain a holistic view of each candidate.

Your organization should take steps to make culture fit assessments objective and measurable. While hiring managers might feel like the candidate is a great culture fit, they can’t speak for whole teams or departments, nor can they always adequately explain their rationale for hiring a certain candidate. 

4. It perpetuates hiring bias 

Unconscious bias in hiring processes is still a huge problem in many organizations. Repeatedly hiring similar people can reinforce the original unconscious biases that contributed to previous hiring decisions.

Since culture fit is subjective and open to interpretation, unconscious bias often becomes an issue in the hiring process. Plus, it’s unrealistic to rely on culture fit to predict future job performance since no objective metrics are applied to the decision-making process.

5. It doesn’t reflect a candidate’s true aptitude 

A candidate that appears to be a good culture fit doesn’t automatically have what it takes to succeed and become an asset to your organization. Many organizations let top talent slip through their fingers because they’re too focused on culture fit rather than taking a holistic view of all candidates.

A comprehensive view of the candidate involves using pre-employment screening tests before making hiring decisions, including a range of role-specific skills tests, personality and culture tests, and cognitive ability tests

Stop hiring for culture fit and start hiring for culture add 

Making hiring decisions based on gut instinct often makes for bad business decisions. Hiring teams that want to consider culture, but are also serious about hiring the right candidates, shouldn’t rely on culture fit. You should instead focus on culture add. 

Culture add is an effective way of looking at how new hires can be purposeful “additions” to existing companies, teams, and departments. Rather than relying on existing culture in your workplace, culture add looks at candidates’ behaviors and activities that will help improve your core culture. It recognizes the importance of new contributions to helping a company grow, thrive, and succeed.  

Better still, it can be measured using TestGorilla’s standardized Culture Add test.

It works by first enabling you to set a standard for your culture through a questionnaire. This same questionnaire measures how well candidates align with your answers. 

The test will evaluate candidates on: 

  • How each candidate’s personal values align with your organizational values

  • How the behaviors each candidate exhibits within their role align with the desired behaviors you want to bring to your team

  • How the activities that each candidate likes to perform align with the desired activities you want to fulfill via the open role

The culture add test does more than help you avoid unconscious biases from creeping into hiring processes. It also helps you find candidates who truly share your organization’s core values and who can offer new behaviors and activities that will contribute to your organization’s growth and success. 

Get started with TestGorilla today, and start making better hiring decisions, faster and bias-free.


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