Going Beyond ‘Culture Fit’ to Improve Hiring and Maintain Diversity

Hiring for “culture fit” can be problematic, inviting unconscious bias into the recruiting process and unintentionally hurting diversity and inclusion. In the latest episode of LinkedIn’s new “Talent on Tap” video series, LinkedIn CHRO Pat Wadors and VP of global talent acquisition Brendan Browne discuss why the concept of culture fit is outmoded and suggest a way for organizations to factor “fit” into hiring without discouraging diversity:

Without officially assessing for “culture fit,” there is another way recruiters can achieve the same results: break culture fit down into more tangible, assessable pieces. An employee’s impact on culture is threefold: stylistic fit, skillset fit, and expectation fit. The stylistic fit is the way an individual communicates, debates, gives/receives gratitude, and builds relationships. The skillset fit is more obvious and the easiest to assess during the hiring process.

Expectation fit can be defined by how well a candidate’s career preferences and aspirations intersect with the current and future operations of the company. Setting clear expectations around your company culture and how it’s lived out on a day-to-day basis can help candidates understand if this is a place where they will reach their full potential — ultimately lowering the risk for the future attrition of that candidate.

In our research at CEB, we’ve uncovered a similar alternative to culture fit, which we call “network fit.” Organizations that hire for network fit, we’ve found, can see a 30 percent difference in quality of hire as opposed to just 12 percent for those who hire for cultural fit, while reducing new hire turnover by 6 percent and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in recruiting costs.

Much like the system Wadors advocates, network fit refers to a much more precise understanding of how a candidate “fits” in your organization, including how well they click with their immediate colleagues and informal peers (the “who”), as well as how their competencies, values, and work preferences connect with the way their colleagues work (the “how”). CEB Recruiting Leadership Council members can read more about how to improve quality of hire by revamping the assessment and selection process here, and watch our webinar on network fit and how to build it into your hiring process.