Is Hiring for Cultural Fit or Skills More Important?

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Many years ago, I spent a summer during college backpacking my way through Europe and it is still one of my most memorable and favorite experiences.

One of the most interesting parts of the trip was immersing myself into the local cultures.  I loved how each was different in their own ways; customs, people, food, architecture to name a few.  What I didn’t realize at that time was different cultures apply not only to geography, but companies, families and nearly everything in life.

One of the most important things I learned was about being aware of differences and how they affect people.  When cultural differences is applied to employment and employees are not comfortable in their environment, many times their behaviors changes, lose motivation and work performance drops.   Oftentimes it will spill over into the employee’s personal life.

Assessing for cultural fit is one of the most important parts of the hiring process.  If the cultural fit does not exist, it will be difficult for the employee and the organization to thrive together. This often results in costly turnover that will not only affect your bottom-line but will also impact your company morale.

Hiring decisions based on skills are usually deemed paramount in achieving the desired outcomes for the position; every hiring manager wants to achieve that success.  However, the great thing about skills is that they are trainable and career minded individuals will utilize every minute to learn additional skills.   You cannot change the person or the culture easily, but you can train the specific skills you are looking for.  Take the time to develop what competencies you are looking for in the individual, the skills you “must have” vs “good to have” or trainable and interview for fit.  Take the time to ensure the individual and the organization fit together well.  It can mean the difference of a high performing or low performing team.

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