Hiring Managers: Resumes Don’t Predict Cultural Fit

From hiring hundreds of candidates over the last twenty years, we’ve learned that what you see in a resume rarely accurately predicts who you see in the room. So how are you supposed to make sure you’re getting the best resource for your team? Assessing cultural fit must be done in conversation with the person during the interview. This is when you’ll want to be talking about culture; are you a good fit for our culture?

You’ll also want to be able to identify culture fit with contextual competencies. If we’re being honest, competencies are not always transferrable. Can you make this candidate work, even if you have to devote time to training them? It’s true that a resume and a portfolio can go a long way to cover much of the candidate’s work experience. Knowing that a candidate has the relevant experience, credentials, and technical skills for success in another organization does not mean they can “fit in” and perform in your environment.

What’s this cultural fit trend anyway? Like us, maybe you’ve seen a trend across your hiring. We’ve found that people are hired for skills but can be fired for “fit.” How do you find it before it’s too late? In our experience it just takes time. Fit is partly about personal values and partly about “how we like to do things around here.” No resume or interview can fully assess culture fit. Candidates may have the key skills and competencies needed, but their work style may drain everyone’s energy and lower team productivity. It can be torture for this person as well – no one wants to be in an organization that doesn’t align with their personal values.

Regardless if you formally consider candidates based on culture fit or not, you can’t hire without taking it into consideration. To get at cultural fit in the interview, take a hard, objective look at your ideal candidate. Then, when you are interviewing people, in addition to considering their credentials and experience, you also want to look at how they achieved their results in their last few positions. Look at both what they enjoyed and what they struggled with in their past jobs. Just by encouraging them to open up will show how they’ve built the resume sitting in front of you. Observe how your environment compares with those of their previous employers. Candidates won’t have enough information to assess their own cultural fit, as hard as they may try. You may need to find a way to interview more candidates to find that fit, and that’s your job as the hiring manager.