Cultural fit; more important than technical expertise?

Cultural fit; more important than technical expertise?

On any new recruitment brief, a client will have a specific list of criteria that the ideal candidate will possess; relevant experience, qualifications etc.. However having met the client, it is also important for a recruiter to get a good feel for the type of personality that would best fit their client’s team. A typical example could be that in a tight knit senior management team of big (predominantly extrovert) personalities, only a similar type of personality is actually going to ‘cut the mustard’ and fit in with that organisation in the long-term.

One of the processes we undertake to understand our clients better is to research who they have recruited in the past to gain an insight into the type of candidate they have historically recruited. You can do this with virtually any company; by analysing the employment history of external recruits; the types of places they have been recruited from, their educational background and those that have had quickest career trajectory (i.e. quick promotions upwards) we can build our knowledge of the right types of places to look for other candidates.

The team fit of any new recruit is crucially important for it to be successful in the long-term; and in the majority of cases a candidate that ticks less of the ideal technical boxes, but whom has the right personality for the client’s organisation, will be the individual recruited.

Essentially an employee who is a strong cultural fit is more likely to work well with other successful employees and the can continue to build their skills and competences over the course of time with that company. On the other hand, an employee who ticks all of the technical boxes desired, but that fails to fit in with the company culture is more likely to leave when a role comes up that is better aligned with their own values.

From a recruiter’s perspective, being aware of this ‘halo effect’ enhances our chances of securing successful long-term placements for our clients.

With all but the most technical of roles there are generally a number of interested candidates out there who can ‘do the job’, we will always look to find the best candidates that match our client’s ethos, management style and style of working to achieve a long-term success from that recruitment.

There are three key questions we recommend all clients ask themselves about a candidate before making a commitment to hire;

  1. Can the candidate do the job; do they have the right technical, managerial and leadership competences?
  2. Are they motivated to do the job? Are there ‘push factors’ for them to leave their current employer and ‘pull factors’ for them to join you? Unless there are clear motivations beyond a financial increase to move then there is always a big risk that the candidate could be counter-offered by their current employer.
  3. Are they a good cultural fit for your team and/or organisation?

On balance I would recommend placing a priority emphasis on the cultural fit of potential hires rather than focusing on those with the highest degree of technical competence as it is likely to lead to better long-term success of that individual within the business and the relevant competencies can be gained over time. This does not mean the importance of increased cultural diversity and gender mix should be ignored though, as diversity only works to strengthen a cohort, so we always look for the best balance and fit within these margins.

From a wider business perspective the biggest asset to any company are its people so it is paramount that the right people are recruited above those that simple tick more of the technical attributes desired for a particular job.

To discuss how to attract the right cultural fits for your business please do get in touch; [email protected]

Author: Jim Newsom

Jim Newsom

Managing Director