Why You Should Stop Hiring for Culture Fit

If you are keen on following the trends, most likely you jumped on the bandwagon of the psychology-driven recruiters who embrace the “Cultural Fit Assessment” into their recruitment practice. The concept of culture fit somehow veered into buzzword territory without any substantial evidence whatsoever to back it up and much indicators against it, which is why one of the most argued topics in the talent acquisition space is hiring for culture fit.

As someone who has 20+ years in recruitment and who majored in culture, allow me to make the case against this practice, even though I have a great regard for culture. The fact that I have a 100% success rate and that the teams I recruited have topped the rank lists and won all the awards might give me some credibility but the facts alone will convince you, that is, if you read them with an open mind or while in a constructive mode of consciousness (objectivism, intelligence, rationality, wisdom, acceptance, willingness, respectfulness, considerateness, neutrality, trust, permissiveness, sensibleness, or thoughtfulness) rather than a destructive one (ungratefulness, rivalry, arrogance, skepticism, passivity, or criticalness).

I am not the only one to discover the faultiness of this hiring malpractice, so if you can’t trust me because you don’t know me, make sure to inform yourself well enough so that you don’t make this mistake any longer:
Stop Hiring for Culture Fit – Harvard Business Review
Is Hiring For Culture Fit Perpetuating Bias? – Forbes
Stop Hiring for “Cultural Fit” – Kellogg Insight
5 Big Reasons Not to Hire for Culture Fit – Zappos and others show a better way to interview and hire awesome people
The Dangers of Hiring for Cultural Fit – WSJ (The Wall Street Journal)
Hiring for Culture Fit Doesn’t Work – Inc.
Hiring For Cultural Fit: More Harm Than Good – Built In
Why you should stop hiring for cultural fit – Applied
Why hiring for culture fit is misguided – Hive Learning

Like with anything else, also with this topic, there are two camps – pro and contra ones. Both camps have their valid arguments but no one has actual proof, like an actual scientific study on the consequences of hiring for culture fit. If you have one, please let us know down in the commentary box (provide us with the link to the study, please) and we will be happy to include it here but until then, consider any cultural fit assessment as nothing but a theory or assumption.

Since there is no replicable evidence that hiring for culture fit is a legitimate method, no dignified and competent recruiter should practice it until it is proven to be valid.

The types of recruiters who don’t bother to investigate the scientific evidence of their adapted selection practice are also the ones who don’t bother to measure or evaluate the success of their hires, whether their hires really fit with the corporate culture and whether those they rejected on that basis would really fail in their environment. Even worse, they are so haughty that they believe their own Cultural Fit Assessment is flawless as opposed to all the other ones that they admit being possibly biased. It is one thing to be wrong but a whole other level of fault not to be willing to admit or at least consider being wrong – this is a mark of a recruiter type that has no qualities to act as a gatekeeper for any decent company.

There is a general opinion and consensus that psychologists’ profession or psychology is the supreme authority when it comes to recognizing human cognitive and emotional abilities in the recruiting process. The high regard of it reflects in the fact that psychology majors are one of the most sought-after programs at colleges and universities. This notion and regard come from the fact that besides psychology, there is no other recognized scientific discipline that specializes in the human mind, abilities, and behavior.

As an alternative, sometimes recruiters ask for a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities (part of the liberal arts) – a multidisciplinary study of human society, history, philosophy, and culture (literature, art, drama, music, languages, religion, and morality) – because its graduates are primed to be good problem-solvers and communicators excelling in critical thinking, analysis (qualitative, interpretive and theoretical, not scientific), and creativity, but their formal education didn’t equip them with the knowledge or skills to justifiably recognize top talent or the culturally fit.

Then there are virtuologues, a new, yet relatively unknown breed of professionals, whose specialization goes beyond the mere human mind and behaviors into the broader domain of human consciousness, which is also the subject of psychology and philosophy but to a much lesser degree. Virtuologues specialize in specific modes of consciousness, especially the constructive ones, which are also called virtues, and in raising one’s own level of consciousness so as to raise one’s own level of well-being and success.

With the amount of trust in psychologists and reliance on them, you would think that they get everything right but they don’t, as a vast amount of studies and reports reveal:
Hundreds of Psychology Studies Are Wrong
• book Psychology Gone Wrong
Psychology’s Credibility Crisis
The Psychologist’s Fallacy
This Is What Is Wrong With the Core of Psychology.

This is not to demean anyone but to look the truth in the eyes. Let’s be honest, psychology tests and assessments have proven wrong on countless occasions. One such high-profile example is the famous IQ test, which is proven so wrong that hardly ever anyone considers it nowadays. But it was highly respected and used in the old days. How many other such psychological tests and assessments are currently in usage that have no proven value, do you know? You don’t want to know. Because if you knew, you would not rely on recruiters who majored in psychology to be the gatekeepers on who should join your team or not.

Reconsider using personality assessments (designed by psychologists) to screen job candidates because there is no proof of them being reliable. This is a more than $500-million-a-year industry, growing by about 10 percent annually in recent years. There are thousands of personality assessments available, and their quality varies. Some might even land an employer in legal trouble.

Compared to other hiring selection practices, personality assessments are among the least effective in predicting job performance, according to research by the University of Iowa, US. Test responses can change depending on mood and environment, as opposed to enduring personality traits. Also, in self-report personality assessments, job applicants can fake the answers – give the responses that they think the employer wants. Individuals should not be pigeonholed based on their personality assessment.

One example of faulty personality assessment is the assumption that one needs to hire an extrovert for a sales position. That inclination is wrong because I know plenty of people who are quiet and introverted but successful in sales. They would tell you that the best tool for a salesman is his ears—listening, not talking, but most psychologists won’t hear it.

Another such narrow-minded test or assessment that is now trending among such recruiters is the one about culture fit. Cultural fit and functional fit are two criteria that human resource departments consider when evaluating candidates for employment.

Culture fit in the context of recruiting is about having employees whose beliefs, values, and behaviors are in alignment with those of the employer. Cultural fit is the likelihood that a job candidate will be able to conform and adapt to the core values and collective behaviors that make up an organization. But this is opposed to the diversity and inclusion policy – don’t the people who studied psychology get that?

When it comes to culture, companies are like communities or even countries, who also have their culture. What would you think about the countries or communities, who don’t allow people of different values or even cultures to become their citizens or members? If companies accept customers with different values, why wouldn’t they accept employees with different values? Think about that.

We are living in a modern world where multicultural societies thrive the most, but there are psychology-majored recruiters out there who believe that it is wrong to have a diverse team and who don’t include those who don’t fit into their idea of what a great culture is.

Although the idea behind the culture fit assessment may be viable, the way the recruiters go about it is certainly not. The sort of questions they ask the candidates to determine whether they are a cultural fit is absurd, bordering on insane. So much that some go as far as using an algorithm to assess whether candidates are culturally fit!

Of course, there are some broad determinants, but the candidates have already taken those into account before applying. So, vegans will never fit into an environment where animal-killing is accepted, so they won’t apply for the jobs in the companies that exploit animals or do animal testing or sell meat. Likewise, the individuals who thrive in a casual environment are not likely to apply for the jobs that thrive in a strictly formal setting. Those who don’t share the values of the pharmaceutical companies won’t come knocking on their doors.

When it comes to values, which are promoted as the most relevant determinants for the culture fit, they are usually so broadly shared that anyone could be a fit for them and, just to get the job, any candidate can just lie that they share the company’s values, which are stated on the company’s website. Besides, those values are mostly just on paper, whereas the employees don’t really consider them much in their day-to-day chores. And even if people share the same values, that is no assurance at all that they will work well as a team because for that values don’t count that much but other factors.

As the research on cultural fit has evolved in academia, companies began drawing their own interpretations and methods of hiring. Can someone please tell me how could possibly the standard questions like these determine whether a candidate would fit with the team:

• Where do you see yourself in five years?
• Tell me three strengths and three weaknesses of yours?
• What do you appreciate most about working in a team?
• Do you dislike any elements of teamwork?
• What drives you in your day-to-day work?
• Is there anything you like about your current colleagues?

Rarely anyone has firm answers to those questions, which is an additional reason not to judge them on that feeble criteria. If someone wants to become an astronaut in 5 years and you are concerned about staff retention in your non-astronaut business, this is still not a viable reason to dismiss the candidate, as he or she could bring enormous value in a short time regardless of their goals. Most people don’t achieve their 5 years goals anyway, so to consider that answer in the selection process is irrational.

One of the main problems companies have with retention is not that the employees turn out not to be culturally fit but the flawed executives, who fake DEI or create a climate that is either toxic or disadvantageous for certain types or classes of employees.
We don’t have the time for delving into the irrationality of each of those questions or any other ones that recruiters use to determine a culture fit, but we hope you get the idea by now.

It’s understandable to want to hire people who align with the characteristics or values of your organization. However, incorrectly identifying culture fit can lead to a homogeneous working environment that lacks diversity, and can play into your unconscious biases.
The interviewers may fall into the trap of seeking personal connections instead of actually identifying common values. It’s like the colloquial “beer test” wherein faced with the difficulty of choosing between two candidates, you go with the person you’d enjoy having a beer with. However, there is substantial evidence that playmates rarely make for a solid company process.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become a business priority, and for good reason. Strong DEI policies are not just a “nice-to-have,” but rather essential for both individual and business success. In conjunction with ongoing global crises, social movements, and racial injustice, more people, especially the younger generations, are deeply invested in DEI and how organizations are approaching it. From existing employees to job candidates and even customers, people today are looking to invest their time, labor, and money into ethical, socially conscious businesses. If you are seeking only those that are culturally fit for you, then you are disregarding the public demand for diversity & inclusion of this day and age. The public will eventually find out about your malpractices and expose you. You have been warned.

If you need further convincing that dismissing those who seem not to be a culture fit is wrong, consider doing more research on that and this example: an older person returning to the workplace after caring for their children may not appear to fit into a culture of younger people happy to work late, but they will bring a whole lot of knowledge and life experience to the table that could make a difference to the business. And, just because they aren’t young and can’t go to the pub due to family commitments, it doesn’t mean they don’t uphold the same values of the business.

To avoid any misunderstandings, let’s state it clearly that corporate culture is very important but whether a job applicant is culturally fit is not that important because, with proper measures in place, such as those implemented by a virtuologue, anyone can adapt to a culture of their company that is compliant with true DEI. There is a proven correlation between the business culture of a company and its financial success, but let’s not confuse that with the recruiters’ flawed assessment for the culturally fit.


HR Transformation & Recruiting Paradigm Shift

When hiring professionals, most companies, if not all, don’t look beyond academic credentials, which cost them millions in lost opportunities. In the current paradigm, recruitment is based mainly on academic credentials, which is proven faulty. Allow me to make the case for natural talents and informal education.
As someone, who has worked 20+ years in HR and L&D, and built high-performing, award-winning teams, I know a thing or two about what it takes to perform well, and a college degree is not it – in many cases, as it turns out, it can be even an impediment.

Naturally, all leaders strive for top talent in their teams, but what exactly is the criteria for top talent? All HR specialists have their take on this matter, but since they come from academic circles, naturally they are biased and lean towards academic credentials. Those among the HR officials, who worked hard for years to get their academic degree, cannot dare to consider the prospect of uselessness or worthlessness of it for the actual performance ability.
Think about it.

What every employer is looking for now is a 20-year-old with 40 years of experience 😉

If you are ready to make enormous compromises, sweat, struggle, and get into huge financial debt to graduate from college, then you surely have faith in the academic credentials – this is then your religion, so to speak. Are you then in a position to accept college dropouts as your equals? Of course, not. If you work in HR, your bias is costing your company millions in untapped talent you reject every day. But it is not your fault. You are just a cog in a machine of the current paradigm. The perpetrators of the formal education established this paradigm, which you gullibly got caught up in, and they make every effort to keep this status quo, using you.

This is not to say there is no value in formal education or academic credentials, quite the contrary. There is enormous value in it and we are ever appreciative of it all. However, to say that informal education and self-education don’t have as much value, as old-fashioned HR officials reckon and accordingly act (rejecting those without academic credentials), it is not just proven faulty but highly narrow-minded, discriminatory, prejudiced, unfair, unjust, and intolerant, equivalent to sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, classism, religious intolerance, and such discriminatory approaches that feed into the Inequality issue.

There is enough solid evidence to prove that competence and capability for most, if not all, work don’t necessarily or exclusively come from formal education.
Also, there is enough solid evidence to prove that the level of success is determined by the level of consciousness, rather than the level of education. See Consciousness Theorem

In a world in which most companies claim to embrace and comply with the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) or even Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policy, the unfortunate truth is that most HR officials have a very narrow-minded view of what that actually means. Diversity and Inclusion (or D&I) is an approach taken by organizations to building diverse teams and promoting an inclusive workplace, in order to set underrepresented groups up for success. For small-minded recruiters that means having to hire more women, people of color, and LGBT individuals.

However, the elements of diversity include age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, immigration status, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. The socioeconomic status takes account of social and economic factors including educational qualifications, occupations, household income, the level of reliance on government income support, and the level of household overcrowding. D&I implies all of these elements, in particular including diverse educational qualifications!

Therefore, no company has the right to claim to adhere to Diversity and Inclusion, if they do it only partially. There is a vile trend of companies marketing their D&I or DEI policy when in fact it is nothing but a mere strategy to win more customers, build a reputation and increase revenues. To position themselves higher on the postcapitalistic market and exhibit their high standards, companies are weaving D&I or DEI into their mission statements but let’s not be fooled. Don’t they know that cool guys never call themselves cool? No one cares more about what you say than what you do. Top talent are calling on organizations to start practicing what they preach and build a truly equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace. If you require and hire for certain positions only those with academic credentials, then this is not Diversity and Inclusion, but uniformity and exclusion.

Nowadays brands need to work harder to define what they stand for and what they don’t. Whether that means defining their stance on gender equity, politics, labor practices, or something else altogether, customers are expecting brands to hold themselves to a higher standard. Conscientious millennials are now the largest generation in the consumer base and workforce, shaping society in their image and expecting companies to be more value- and virtue-driven.

D&I approach is about gaining a proper understanding of the unique dynamics of diversity within an organization and then strategically addressing them to promote inclusion, innovation, and learning and to avoid discrimination due to stereotypes.

Excluding those without academic credentials and specific socioeconomic status is a far cry from the D&I or DEI as the public see it. Posting job requirements with a certain college degree is not being diverse and inclusive, let alone smart since a college degree says nothing about individual competencies and capabilities (as all savvy HR officials already know).

But this initiative is not about D&I or DEI benefits; it is not about dealing with the variety and heterogeneity of employees in a meaningful way that benefits all. It is about the solid facts or evidence that academic credentials are not the only measure of someone’s capabilities. There are countless records online, listing famous college dropouts or successful individuals and self-made millionaires who made it big without any academic credentials.

Here are just some of the few big shots, who have proven that the lack of academic credentials means nothing, and who would get rejected by the narrow-minded recruiters of this day and age: Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ellen DeGeneres, Ralph Lauren, Steven Spielberg, Ted Turner, Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, Louise Hay, many US presidents and politicians (Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Franklin, Roosevelt, Jackson, Truman…), John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Roman Abramovich, Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Thomas Alva Edison, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Hans Christian Andersen, William Shakespeare, etc.

If any of those people would apply for a job at your company before becoming famous, your recruitment team would reject them in the current paradigm. That is why the paradigm needs to shift, don’t you agree?

Recognizing your top job candidates is not an easy task, which is why sluggish and biased recruiters rely on academic credentials. They can’t be bothered to check beyond such credentials, such as the cover letters and proposals because it is much easier to discriminate a whole demographic than having to consider everyone.

Let’s not deny it, discrimination is what recruiters need to do in the selection process, but if it is unavoidable, at least it has to be based on the factual determinants of success and a college degree is not one of them. Apart from countless college dropouts having enormous successes, further evidence is countless university graduates who are unsuccessful or unproductive.

Virtuologues enable you to improve your hiring and selection process, recognize which factors contribute to individual success, and train for those factors across your organization.
A narrow-minded recruiter looks at a “purple” candidate and sees a “purple” candidate, whereas a virtuologue sees the red and blue beneath the surface.

And let’s leave you with these progressive words of Elon Musk:

“You want to make sure that…if somebody great wants to join the company that they actually get an interview. This is actually one of my big worries. Like, if Nikola Tesla was alive today, could he get an interview? And if not, we’re doing something wrong. And I’m not totally sure he would get an interview. So, if one of the most brilliant engineers who ever lived could maybe not get an interview, we should fix that and make sure we’re not barring the doors from talent, or that we’re looking at the right things.
“Generally, look for things that are evidence of exceptional ability. I don’t even care if somebody graduated from college or high school or whatever… Did they build some really impressive device? Win some really tough competition? Come up with some really great idea? Solve some really tough problem?”