How to Hire for Cultural Fit without Harming your Diversity Efforts

Nov 24, 2016 · 5 min read

Culture fit is somewhat of an HR buzzword right now, with hundreds and thousands of articles being written about it’s importance each year. This is not one of them.

You already know that:

  • 89% of employees that leave are due to culture fit,
  • Candidates that have a good culture fit are 27% less likely to leave after 18 months
  • A bad hire can cost anywhere between 30–150% of the first year salary,
  • 80% of employee turnover is down to managers hiring people who are a bad fit.
  • 35% of people say a bad hire has an adverse effect on employee morale.

So we definitely aren’t going to reiterate those points.

However, some people are saying it has it’s flaws. For every article that promotes the importance of having people fit in with an organisation, there is a rebuttal about the discrimination of hiring people based on whether you like them or not. In fact, according to a recent study, 40% hiring managers are afraid to ask questions about cultural fit because they may be perceived as discriminatory.

We don’t need to tell you twice about why a lack of diversity is bad, (beyond the basic human decency).

You are well aware that companies that have more diverse workforces:

This article isn’t here to explain why you should increase diversity, but rather, how you can incorporate culture fit into your diversity efforts.

The perception of conflict

Image for post

The conflict lies in the misunderstanding (often from hiring managers) about what hiring for culture fit actually entails.

  • Hiring someone because you would go to the pub with them isn’t hiring for culture fit.
  • Hiring someone because they recommended the trendiest vegan restaurant in town isn’t hiring for culture fit.
  • Hiring someone because they remind you of a younger version of yourself isn’t hiring for culture fit.

Culture fit is putting people into environments in which they will thrive.

1- Measure your culture

Image for post

If there is a criteria you are looking for in a candidate, you must first define it.

You wouldn’t decline a candidate due to lack of technical ability without first specifying the technical requirements needed. Similarly, if you want to hire people that fit in with your culture, you must measure what your existing culture is, and hire into it.

ThriveMap® measures your team’s ideal work environment, and compares it to potential candidates. By doing this, you can have an objective, practical measurement, that has no bearing on implicit biases. The focus then is on how well suited candidates are to the way the team that they’re due to join works rather than how likeable or sociable they appear.

2- Have a diverse hiring team

Image for post

Humans have inherent biases, whether they are aware of them or not. Lots and lots of them. These manifest themselves when it comes to hiring all the time. Confirmation bias is when your subconscious primarily observes evidence to reinforce your initial opinion of someone, while ignoring any traits that would conflict this. This leads to a huge problem of people hiring in their own image.

If the hiring team is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, any one person’s biases will be diluted, and there won’t be an “own image” to have in mind while assessing candidates.

3- Gender neutralise job descriptions

Image for post

This is one of the key factors behind inadvertent discrimination, or the “no women applied, so how can I hire one” string of logic.

If no women applied to your job advert, there is something wrong with your job advert.

As proved by the Duke university research paper: “Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality”, how you write your job description makes a difference.

This brilliant article outlines how to spot, and more importantly, how to correct the bias in your job descriptions. There is even an app called Textio to highlight how gender neutral your job descriptions are.

4- Transcribe your interviews

Image for post

This process is time consuming, yet relatively straightforward. Using a hiring team of at least 3 people, you can truly eradicate inadvertent bias.

While the first person does the face to face interviews with the second party transcribes the interview verbatim, and gives it to the third party to judge without any names.

The main reason this is preferable to simply recording interviews, is that with a recording, judgements can still be made based on how a candidate looks and sounds, rather than their ability to answer questions related to how effective they would be in the job.

This way, the third party is not projecting any of their own biases on the candidate, and simply judging them what they said to the pre-set questions.

A lot of effort? Yes.
A good way of ensuring that no biases are affecting your decisions? Definitely.

5- Focus on inclusion before diversity

Image for post

A topic we heard discussed in a recent Culture Amp podcast, it is more important to ensure that all people feel welcome in a workplace environment, than hiring lots of people that have a small chance of thriving there.

There is no point in diversifying your hiring policy, if it only leads to people leaving due to not feeling included. In simplistic terms, “diversity is the mix; inclusion is getting the mix to work well together.

Hiring for the sake of ticking boxes isn’t doing anyone any favours. To give anyone a chance of thriving in your organisation, you will have to ensure that they have are in an environment that ensures they are able to do their best work.

An individual who is uncomfortable with your culture is not going to stay around, and ultimately end up leaving.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store