Recruiting for Cultural Fit

Culture is a primary factor in any organisation’s long-term success; it is one of the main assets of a company that remains stable and consistent in the face of constant change.  A company’s culture includes the policies, systems and processes, as well as, shared beliefs and experiences that demonstrate its values.  Organisational psychology guru, Adrian Furnham, defined cultural fit in an organisation as “congruence between the norms and values of the organisation and those of a person”.  Cultural fit is a valued concept as it ties the values of the individual to the values and vision of the organisation.  Employees hired based on their culture fit with the organisation are found to have increased happiness, loyalty to their company, as well as, higher productivity and levels of commitment when sharing similar values to an organisation.  

Now think about your own organisation. It may be that some of your current employees express characteristics, language and values that exist within the current organisational culture.  However, you may find that other employees do not have the same experiences and attitudes, and may be working towards different goals in your organisation.  Diversity in opinions and people is very important, however, individuals that are not culturally fitted may find it more difficult to become part of the organisational team, may take longer to contribute than others, and may not stay as long.

Employees who fail to fit within the environment are more likely to leave and find an organisation more congruent to their views and beliefs.  According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employee turnover caused by poor cultural recruiting costs half to two-thirds of an employee’s annual salary.  The costs of turnover and importance of cultural recruiting are too significant to ignore.  Thus, it is very important to establish cultural fit as a goal from the beginning to the end of the hiring process for both the employer and the prospective employee.

Not only are costs avoided through successful cultural recruiting; competitive advantage as a company can be gained.  If recruitment and selection procedures can successfully measure an employee’s cultural views and beliefs, you will be hiring people that will fulfil the current cultural environment of your company.  Thus, performance, productivity and profits will increase and value will be added to the workplace; while competitors continue to contribute to higher turnover rates with unsuitable employee recruitment processes.  This was demonstrated in a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where James Collins and Jerry Porras studied eighteen US companies that remained at the top of each of their industries for more than fifty years.  It was found that these organisations placed a large emphasis on hiring, developing and managing employees based on the cultural fit each business wanted to achieve.  Consequently, employees thrived in their environments and retention rates were greatly increased.  Success for an organisation can be confidently attributed to using cultural fit to hire people today that will drive the future for your organisation tomorrow.  

With all this taken into consideration, how can you better identify candidates during the recruitment and selection process that fit the culture of your organisation?  Here are six practices to enable your organisation to continue growing successfully:

Communicate company values
To recruit candidates with similar values to the organisation, it is important to communicate company values as early as possible.  When company values are accessible, candidates have a clear idea of what the company expects and whether they can contribute to enhancing these values as a new employee.  Candidates value an honest and real-world representation of the organisation’s morals and ethics, and can pre-evaluate whether to apply for the role.  This will, in turn, reduce recruitment and interview time for Human Resource managers, increasing efficiency in their roles and lowering unnecessary training and turnover costs that competitors are facing.  Some clients request that Psych Press place their values ‘upfront’ when creating an online recruitment platform, with a checkbox to indicate they have been understood.

Personality assessment
Resume screening is a useful tool in shortlisting candidates.  However, large amounts of evidence, such as from Harvard Business School, suggest the reliability of resume reading as a screening process in isolation is akin to tossing a coin.  Worse, it is seen as a major source of bias and reason for a lack of diversity.  Personality testing can increase reliability and fairness dramatically to help narrow the recruiting focus to only candidates with the required competencies suitable for the company, where they can then be further interviewed.  Results from personality, values and attitude assessments provide concrete and unbiased metrics to judge candidates equally in relation to both a role and the organisation.  Candidate work ethics can be gauged via the results too.  A psychometric scale examining candidates’ level of diligence is much more likely to differentiate people than an interview question that may induce a common answer.  The use of the psychometric assessment in recruitment processes avoids the hiring of unsuitable employees, as well as the turnover costs that come with these unreliable decisions.

Ask alternative questions
Be unconventional and ask questions which help in determining if a candidate is culturally suitable for the company.  Ask questions surrounding their ideal workplace, what problems they have faced in other workplaces, how they resolved them and ways in which they define an employee who would be successful in differing organisational environments.  These unexpected and thought-provoking questions are vital in assessing the candidate’s view, values, and problem-solving skills in an organisation.  Unconventional questions require candidates to respond without practiced, formalised answers and provide a more realistic impression of their capabilities.

Listen to the candidate speak
The right opportunity to allow the candidate to speak and ask questions is by giving them time at the end of the interview.  When the candidate can lead the conversation, this provides a rare insight into their personality, and what interests and queries they hold about the organisation.  For example, candidates who appear more inquisitive and intrigued may value learning and intricate details.  Initiating conversation is more challenging than answering common questions during an interview, thus attributes such as confidence and quick-thinking can be evaluated.  Such information is likely to be a useful gauge as to whether the candidate is a suitable fit for the company. 

Expose candidates to company culture
With a final short-list or with your preferred candidate, it may be possible to present them with the cultural aspects of the company through exposing them directly to the everyday life in the organisation.  Try bringing them around the office, introducing them to managers and employees of different divisions, exposing them to interactions and meetings required throughout the day, allowing them to listen into phone calls, inviting them for lunch and/or even giving them an introductory trial run on the job.  This opportunity allows the candidate to gain a rich understanding of the company’s expectations in its cultural environment, as well as giving insight into how comfortable the candidate is amongst other employees.  This exposure in the last steps of the recruitment process is rare among competitors, and will create good press through exceptional candidate care.  The staff they interact with in this context could also have perceptions of the candidate they may care to share.

Ensure fairness
To enable the accurate identification of candidates that fit the culture of your organisation, the recruitment and selection process needs to be fair and equal.  It is known that aspects of a candidate’s identity, such as their ethnicity, age, gender identity and possible disabilities may shape the expectations and behaviours of the interviewer and the ultimate outcome of the interview.  This is due to reliance on inexplicit criteria and subjective judgements. To ensure objective comparability when comparing candidates, unbiased assessments are crucial.  They enable candidates to be measured without undue interviewer influence, providing reliable and valid results.

Without taking into consideration a candidate’s cultural fit before hiring, you risk damaging the companies’ culture by selecting employees who are inconsistent with current values and beliefs, creating unnecessary costs in turnover and missing out on opportunities to grow.  By ensuring candidates are appropriate for your organisation’s environment, recruitment time and resources are decreased while competitive advantage is gained through the increased efficiency of diligent employees. 

Diligence is a vital personality attribute required by employees on all levels and a powerful predictor of values towards work ethic. The use of a psychometric personality assessment can support the selection process by identifying ideal, dedicated candidates.

The Business Personality Reflections® is a personality questionnaire that measures business-related traits to assist in selection and personal development decisions.  Developed by Psych Press, this assessment contains 70 personality scales that can be tailored to any organisation’s needs.  Below, you’ll find more information about the Business Personality Reflections® Diligence scale.


Diligence refers to an individual’s capacity to set goals and their motivation to achieve these goals.  The Diligence scale in the Business Personality Reflections® questionnaire was designed to measure an individual’s industriousness.  Diligent individuals will set high standards and work meticulously to attain these standards.  A diligent person in the workplace will not only produce greater quantities of work, but will also produce work of a higher quality.  Those who are not as diligent are less inclined to set goals and are less likely to complete set tasks by certain deadlines.

A sample item for the Diligence scale that you may see on the Business Personality Reflections® could be:

“I believe one will achieve more if they set higher goals”

High scorers on this scale tend to be individuals who are more likely to be motivated to achieve set goals on both an individual and organisational level.  These individuals are also more likely to continue to maintain their drive to work hard in spite of external challenges.  Low scores on this scale are indicative of individuals who are less likely to have the self-control to continue to strive towards a set goal in the face of difficulties.

Diligence is an important factor in predicting work performance.  Work ethic, or the capacity to work diligently, has been found to be a predictor of salesforce task performance (Ntayi, 2008). Furthermore, diligence was shown to be an important factor in successful work performance for graduates (Quek, 2005).  Employees who are conscientiousness (the higher order factor of diligence) are also less likely to feel job dissatisfaction and psychological distress in roles that have a high degree of ambiguity (Miller, Griffin, & Hart, 1999).  Organisations that recruit a diligent individual can better ensure deliverables due to their hardworking nature.  Diligence should be a staple trait that employers should seek if they require driven individuals who will deliver results regardless of the environment they work in. 

You might consider using the Business Personality Reflections® Diligence scale in positions that have:
  • Frequent time-restrictive deadlines
  • Individually-orientated projects that require personal motivation
  • Minimal supervision demanding individual self-reliance and responsibility
  • Intensive periods of difficult or tedious tasks that demand accuracy

As organisations need diligent employees to ensure deliverables, you can maximise your organisation’s potential by utilising the Business Personality Reflections® either as a standalone traditional assessment, or as part of an online recruitment screening platform developed by Psych Press.  If you would like to learn more about the Diligence scale or the Business Personality Reflections®, please simply enquire now for a free trial.  


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