This statement may raise a couple of eyebrows, especially considering that to suggest hiring someone on the basis of anything but their qualifications seems well…discriminatory. Since 1987 workplace discrimination claims filed with the EEOC have increased by 50% and many have argued that to right the ship organizations must hire on qualifications alone. Some argue that hiring for cultural fit helps an organization, while others argue that hiring for cultural fit hurts the organization and is unfair to qualified candidates. While opposing parties — mostly HR professionals, recruiters and hiring managers — butt heads about who’s right, another party has yet to be given significant consideration and that’s the candidate.
We don’t really need to ask the candidate what they want, do we?
Obviously candidates all want to be hired not on the basis of their color, age, ethnicity, weight, etc. but rather on their qualifications alone. Candidates usually don’t even consider “cultural fit” when evaluating a position. That is until….
….they secure a job with an organization into which they don’t fit. With such high unemployment all that matters to the candidate is salary and “do I get the job” but after they are hired many will discover that cultural fit really does matter. Now some may argue that “cultural fit” is just another word for discrimination and in many instances I wouldn’t argue with them. Indeed thousands of qualified and pleasant candidates are turned down yearly because of that lame excuse, “they just don’t fit in to our culture” but what happens when the candidate is hired and they truly don’t fit in culturally?
The fact is that corporate cultures vary widely and candidates should be cautious before jumping on board with a new organization. I have read recently several accounts from candidates about how they did not fit in with their new co-workers. In one account the employee looked forward, upon getting hired, to working with their much older colleagues and gaining their experience. To her dismay her colleagues constantly discussed their grandchildren, physical ailments and what they would do when they retired. As a result the candidate found little common ground with her co-workers. Now sure maybe this candidate should just get over it but maybe not.
A second candidate explained they were offered a job on the basis of their education and qualifications yet left after just 6 months. They did not fit in culturally with the organization and so felt such loneliness at work that they couldn’t bear the environment for forty hours a week.
Examining this example, arguing that cultural fit doesn’t matter is difficult given that replacing a candidate taxes the organization’s time and money.
If you are a sales person, for instance, who likes to travel constantly, do you want to be hired on the basis of your qualifications by an organization who wants you to ride a phone all day in your cubicle? Of course you don’t!
While getting a job simply because you are the most qualified candidate may seem ideal, you run the risk of jumping into an organization that doesn’t fit your ideals nor maximize your strengths. Poor hiring fit is similar to being a Meg Ryan, rom-com type of person forced to watch a marathon of Freddy Krueger and Jason flicks. Sure you love movies but not all are to your taste and many will make you want to get up and leave before the end.