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The Science Behind a Good Culture Fit

Recently we spoke with Senior Partner, David Weller, Ph.D., on the science behind hiring a person who will excel at their job and in your culture.

 1. Is it important to find people who fit our company culture? 

Culture fit has been an important element of hiring for many years. Unfortunately, research has shown that hiring too many people who fit the cultural stereotype can lead to organizations that take a very narrow view and fall subject to groupthink. Where no one is willing to challenge bad ideas and a sense of artificial harmony develops.   

With the increased emphasis that organizations are placing on diversity hiring, “culture add” has replaced “culture fit.” Companies are now asking, “Will this person round out our perspective and bring unique and different ideas to the table? Will they help us challenge our innate assumptions and biases and ask questions we would not even think of asking?” 

Pre-employment assessments allow you to see how potential candidates add to your culture and can take out some biases that are inherent in human judgement. By assessing open-mindedness, flexibility, empathy, and tolerance for diverging viewpoints, the assessments will help you bring individuals into the organization that will work to expand inclusive and diverse thinking, versus being closed off to ideas that do not fit their worldview. 

2. I have had candidates who interviewed great, but then six months into the job turned out to be disasters. How can I spot when someone is too good to be true? 

There are several possible explanations for this type of scenario. First, the applicant was on their best behavior. There are certainly individuals who are good at turning on the charm and telling us what we want to hear, but this behavior is not sustainable. They know how to “look good” in the interview and may even be able to keep that façade on for the first few months of the job, but then the real them starts to show.   

Choosing a partner to run personality assessments can help you see if someone is trying too hard to make a good impression. This “faking good” profile is a red flag that what you see may not be what you get in the long run. 

A second common cause of someone’s behaviors shifting after being on the job is the presence of what we call “career derailleurs.” These are negative traits and attributes that interfere with career success. Examples might include being highly defensive when given feedback; being overly aggressive and argumentative; or on the other hand, being unwilling or unable to lean into conflict, or being “too nice.”  

While these behaviors will not typically surface in many job interviews, the combination of our assessments and in-depth interviews by consultants with a Ph.D. in psychology can often uncover the potential for them.  

3. My hiring managers are not that great at interviewing, they talk too much and ask the same old questions. What can I do to help them do a better job at differentiating candidates? 

Interviews have been, and still are, the primary means of selecting job applicants. Unfortunately for most interviewers, when used as the sole method for hiring they are not the most effective way to select the right candidate. As interviewers, we fall prey to many traps which negatively impact our ability to make unbiased selection decisions. Statistics show the average interviewer makes up their mind about a candidate in the first 3 minutes of the interview and spends the rest of the time justifying that decision.  

By training your interviewers in behavioral-based interviewing and arming them with the tools they need, you can improve the effectiveness of your hiring process. We help leaders from across the organization to up their interviewing game by focusing on the competencies that matter for the job and steering away from irrelevant or outright illegal hiring questions.  

4. What is the one thing an organization can do to ensure you select people who are well suited for the job and the organizational culture?   

Pre-employment assessments have been used for more than 100 years and are backed by research showing they are strong predictors of employee success. Testing takes the bias out of the process by looking at the traits, characteristics, and competencies the person brings to the table as well as how well they match up with the job requirements.   

Assessments also give you insight into motivation and drive, emotional intelligence, aptitude for problem-solving, and analytical thinking. All facets of human behavior that are important for job success and culture alignment. 


Learn more about our pre-employment assessments here
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