‘Recruit for culture, train for skill’. Recruiters reject candidates based on their lack of cultural fit

Written by Cubiks Team
Previously published by PSI Talent Management or Cubiks, prior to becoming Talogy.

In a recent survey of 55 large organisations, Cubiks Netherlands discovered that nine in ten recruiters have rejected candidates due to their lack of cultural fit. The survey was carried out among the participants of the annual Cubiks Corporate Recruiters Masterclass in Amsterdam and included major employers such as Philips, IKEA and TomTom.

What is cultural fit?

Cultural fit is the way in which an employee connects with the organisational culture. This culture is formed from the values, vision, norms, working language, symbols, belief systems and habits of staff, along with their tacit agreement to a set of acceptable behaviours. When these elements are aligned, they create social cohesion, and a high level of social cohesion builds strength in the organisation.

Research demonstrates that organisations with strategies in place to manage culture outperform those that do not, in terms of growth in workforce size as well as increased sales, share prices and net profit. Organisations that show consistency in living their values and beliefs often experience enhanced productivity and ultimately a greater chance of success.

It is not surprising, therefore, that 84% of the recruiters recently surveyed said that culture has become a prominent factor in the selection process.

Jouko van Aggelen, Managing Consultant at Cubiks said:

“A strong culture is crucial for the creation of enduring competitive advantage. Culture-driven organisations have proven to be highly successful; employees feel connected, unwanted turnover decreases and productivity increases. Organisations with a strong culture are often agile and innovative, and benefit from having employees who actively embrace the values and goals of the organisation.

“It is not only recruiters that increasingly recognise the importance of cultural fit. It has become a growing concern among employees themselves, particularly Gen Y, many of whom look beyond job content to scrutinise more closely whether they will experience a good fit with their new employer.”

So should we recruit for culture and then train for skill?

The question that arises from this is whether organisations should be hiring for culture, and training for skill. It is easier to develop an individual’s skills than to attempt to alter their values, habits and belief systems to make them connect with your culture. The obvious solution is to look for candidates that fit both categories; possessing the skills required as well as fitting the culture, but this is easier said than done.

Employers need to take a more solid approach to evaluating cultural fit in candidates, rather than depending on their own gut feeling. A clear definition of what makes up the organisation’s culture is the essential foundation for any such assessment.

Building from this, Cubiks helps clients incorporate cultural fit assessments into their selection processes, for example with structured questionnaires and training in how to interview for cultural fit. Cubiks’ consultants are also able to build cultural fit into assessment centres, exploring it alongside the traditional focus on competence fit.

In particular, situational judgement style questionnaires can be developed to objectively assess an applicant’s level of cultural fit. These bespoke assessments enable organisations to position their culture with candidates, reflecting their employer brand and values. These robust tools can be deployed online to sift out the least suitable individuals at an early stage in the recruitment process, enabling employers to spend more time with those that have a better fit.

Hiring for cultural fit

What you need to know to get started

Organisations are increasingly turning to the concept of “culture fit” for successful recruiting and hiring. Ensuring that new recruits have values and beliefs that align with those of the existing organisational culture can be even more important than skills, qualifications, and experience when it comes to successful hiring decisions.

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