Why We Need to Rethink Hiring for Culture Fit, According to LinkedIn’s Head of HR

December 1, 2016

As a recruiter, you’ve heard the term “culture fit” a lot (to say the least). It’s a term that’s been thrown around for years and the majority of companies put a big emphasis on assessing if a candidate is a cultural fit before making an offer.

But, according to Pat Wadors, LinkedIn’s Head of HR, the term is “dangerous.” Why? Because assessing for culture fit can often lead to a “hire like me” mentality. There may be great people who are walking examples of the culture an organization is trying to emulate, but hiring people from a cookie-cutter, culture-boasting mold can lead to other problems.

So, how do you hire for culture fit without falling into a pattern of hiring too similar of people? In this week’s Talent on Tap episode, Brendan Browne, Head of Talent and LinkedIn, and Pat dive into the issues surrounding culture fit and how we need to start thinking about it differently in order to make better hiring decisions.

According to Pat, “fit” is best looked at from a 15,000 foot view — the way a specific puzzle piece (or person) uses their own unique background and experiences to fill a gap is "fit." The way multiple pieces come together to form a bigger picture is company culture.

What this means for recruiters 

Without officially assessing for “culture fit,” there is another way recruiters can achieve the same results: break culture fit down into more tangible, assessable pieces.

An employee’s impact on culture is threefold: stylistic fit, skillset fit, and expectation fit. The stylistic fit is the way an individual communicates, debates, gives/receives gratitude, and builds relationships. The skillset fit is more obvious and the easiest to assess during the hiring process.

Expectation fit can be defined by how well a candidate’s career preferences and aspirations intersect with the current and future operations of the company. Setting clear expectations around your company culture and how it’s lived out on a day-to-day basis can help candidates understand if this is a place where they will reach their full potential — ultimately lowering the risk for the future attrition of that candidate.

And, when you find yourself in a position where a candidate is undoubtedly qualified, but might not demonstrate stylistic, skillset, and/or expectation alignment to the culture of your company, you can alternatively assess for malleability. “It’s a choice of behavior, not a skillset that is learned,” says Pat. Demonstrating there is greater value and opportunity for the individual, should they change their style of work to align with the broader culture, is one way to hire for and maintain company culture.

Culture should be viewed as a living, ever-evolving force within an organization. In this way, it allows individuals of diverse thoughts, experiences, and backgrounds to have an equal ability to both contribute to and benefit from the culture of their organization. There is no one “right” set of qualifications that would make somebody a champion of company culture, so assessing for “culture fit” may not be yielding the results your organization is seeking.

Talent on Tap is a weekly series where Pat Wadors and Brendan Browne break down some of the hottest topics, biggest challenges, and most enticing opportunities in the world of talent. Talent on Tap will also give you an opportunity to hear from other organizational leaders, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the space. Stay tuned each week for the latest.

*Image by dalioPhoto

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