Candidate Assessment: Why to Hire for Cultural Fit?

Cultural Fit - The Owiwi Blog

Who should you hire?

The technical superstar with all the right qualifications but low to average social/people skills? Or the candidate with average technical skills but a great personality and strong social/people skills? This is a dilemma that employers face more often than not…The essence of the question is actually quite simple; should you look to hire for Job-Fit or Culture-Fit.

The prevailing approach is to look for Job-Fit first, and this is especially common within the IT/developer world; however a Leadership IQ study shows that 46% of new hires are failing during the first months and only 19% present the absolute success. The reason for their failure is the lack of interpersonal skills (Soft) and not technical skills (Hard).

So let’s delve into the essence of both assessment types to understand the advantages and differences of both.

What’s Culture Fit?

Before defining “culture fit”, it’s important to understand what culture means for a company.  A company’s culture starts with its’ mission & values, which are the direct result of the founders’ attitudes, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes and behaviors at first – and are then enriched by the companies subsequent hires.

Culture fit can be defined as people “just like us” or a set of commonly accepted unspoken rules for working together. Every employee adds up to the organization’s culture by bringing their life experiences. However culture is affected by the company’s founder and executives due to their influence on the strategic flow and decision making.

Summing up, culture is embodied in the company’s language, decision making, daily work procedures, stories and basically everything. While a candidate that identifies with all these unspoken rules is the one having a culture fit.

Advantages of Culture Fit Assessments Cultural Fit - The Owiwi Blog

Assessing candidates for culture fit gives you an idea of:

  • candidates’ ability to build long-lasting relationship within the team and company in general
  • who from the candidates value your people/team
  • who has empathy toward the business mission and the people behind it
  • who understands the needs of the customers

In cases where there is no culture fit between a candidate and the company; you are likely to see teamwork suffer, low morale and productivity; and increased turnover.

Why assessing for Culture fit is Important? 

The purpose of a cultural fit assessment is to clarify whether the personal or work style of a candidate is a good fit with the company’s culture. Basically it helps to understand if the values of a candidate align with the ones of the company.

One of the main aspects that adds value to culture fit assessments is the reduction of employee turnover. It gives an opportunity to find candidates who identify themselves with the company, hence decreasing the chance of the new hires’ dismissal. The new team members whose values and needs correspond with the ones of the company, will be more satisfied with their job, stay longer and perform at a higher level.

Nowadays, many hiring managers believe that technical skills are something that can be trained and developed, while personality or soft skills are harder to quantify and improve given their intangible nature. Whether we believe personality is fixed or not, it is not something that can be measured in binary terms such as pass/fail, like an Excel test; Conversely, someone can be good at Excel.

How to assess for culture fit?

Assessing for cultural fit basically means the evaluation of the candidate’s soft skills. One of the most accurate and unbiased ways to assess for culture fit is by the means of the Owiwi’s game-based assessment. It evaluates some of the most necessary skills needed at basically every job position. These are the following: resilience, willingness to change, adaptability, decision-making, learning agility, accountability, teamwork and work ethics.

The assessment takes place through an immersive experience where every candidate’s interaction helps to shape a comprehensive report; showcasing your strengths and areas of improvement to enhance candidate’s”employability” at the specific job position. As soon as the candidate completes the game recruiter is provided with a factual, objective and unbiased ability to evaluate candidates’ fit for the position.

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But what about Job Fit?

Hiring managers who are choosing culture fit assessments don’t exclude also the need to check a candidate’s job experience, career development and the bare-minimum professional competencies necessary for the job.

Functional job fit is an indicator of a candidate’s knowledge, technical skills and experience in accordance to a specific role. Hence the functional job fit assessments determine candidate’s ability to perform specific job-related functions, as for instance coding skills for IT positions or negotiation skills for sales positions. In other words, functional job fit determines whether a candidate is the right person for the right seat.

Simple as it may sound, technical skills testing should be a part of the whole assessment process as it refers to their ability to do their job. Hiring managers note though, that it’s not necessary to score high at this type of assessment. Most of the times (unless it’s a C-level position) an average score is sufficient. Most of the companies hire with a long-term perspective and that’s why they are ready to invest in a new hire training and development.

How to Assess for Functional job Fit?

Cultural Fit - The Owiwi Blog

Assessing these skills can take a wide variety of more traditional assessment forms. For example, additionally to the interview questions most of the recruiters ask the candidates to present a writing sample, a project or some kind of job-related tasks. For positions with an easily quantifiable skill-set, recruiters ask the candidates to go through a numerical testing to benchmark their competency.

Here are some of the commonly asked questions to assess the technical qualifications depending on the position:

  • Sales role: What’s the most complex sale you’ve ever made and how do you define the success of this sale?
  • Marketing role: What’s the biggest problem you’ve encountered in launch campaigns, and how did you overcome it?
  • Database Administrator role: Walk me through the process of troubleshooting issues.

Summing up..

Summing up, some studies and recruiters themselves came to the conclusion that qualifications and technical skills need to be assessed, though they are not a primary indicator that will help to make a final decision. The highest amount of value is devoted to the cultural fit. This happens because the new hire has to blend in smoothly into the company’s culture and the team in order to perform efficiently. When choosing among two candidates with a similar technical background and competencies, the one identifying himself with the company’s culture will be the right one. Knowledge and skills can be trained, values on the other hand not.

Choose wisely…choose with Owiwi!

Julia Petrikova

Julia Petrikova is a Digital Marketer with a side passion for learning foreign languages. Aside from that, you could say she is slightly obsessed with the idea of Utopia's, as she is constantly trying to make things around her perfect (is there such a thing in this world?!). That’s also one of the reasons why Julia decided to take-on a new career challenge by diving into the rapidly evolving HR Industry, assuming Marketing responsibilities for Owiwi! Apart from that, whenever it comes to taking trips, she never gives a second thought and makes the arrangements right away! The last but not least, she is always ready to offer a hand of help to any animal in need.