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May 25, 2009
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Nobody wants to make a bad hiring decision

I know it’s hard to believe but we engage in multiple search assignments every year where the employer struggles to make a decision on which candidate to hire. Nobody wants to make a bad hiring decision. It’s always an interesting dilemma when you have multiple (did I say excellent) candidates to choose from and yet you struggle to make a choice. It’s a compliment to the search consultant every time. The final slate has completed the entire interview process and its now time to declare a winner. Each candidate is qualified to perform the duties as outlined in the job spec.

However, there is usually only one winner and well….you get my point.

So what does an employer do to make sure they are making the right decision? I always start by going back to the job description to make sure we have checked all of the boxes against what we were trying to achieve in hiring the ideal candidate. Assuming all the boxes are checked for the candidates in play, the hiring manager has to look at cultural fit.

Cultural fit in most cases represents 50% of the hiring equation. The question you have to ask yourself is “How will this person fit in with the existing team and culture”? I have seen my fair share of great candidates who have all of the requisite skills, experience and educational credentials – but are a complete mismatch when it comes to cultural fit. I always recommend that each person that participates in the hiring process uses a grading tool to rate each candidate in multiple categories - including cultural fit.

Always make sure that the person you hire will be an excellent fit culturally to give them the greatest chance to succeed.



Great post Tim. Can you give an example of a hypothetical person and company that are a bad cultural fit. Thanks


I agree, cultural fit is a critical component for an employer to consider. On the other side of the coin, it's also a very important consideration for the potential candidate, as well. Even though a candidate may be getting ready to receive the offer of a lifetime, s/he should consider whether or not s/he feels comfortable with the company's culture, because eventually there will be fallout if the disparity is significant.

So, thinking along those lines, Tim, what types of things should a candidate be on the lookout for to best analyze a corporate culture?


Absolutely. One example that comes to mind is a very smart IT professional that has all of the skills but his personality can be abrasive and self-centered (a promoter) at times. He is "all about himself and stubborn in his approach to get what he wants regardless of how it might impact others on the team.
Now - put him in an environment where "team" really matters and everyone respects their co-worker and their opinion. Imagine a great cohesive team environment.
Bad fit! This would be a real recipe for a massive train-wreck. A complete mismatch and a horrible cultural fit!

Good point Gwen. Employees go thru the interview process and meet managers and executives of the company they are evaluating. Most deliver the same sort of "party-line" message to each candidate under consideration. Smart candidates will also require to speak with future peers to really get the inside scoop on what it's like to work there. So it is a two-way street and "cultural fit" needs to be on both sides. Candidates should be interviewing the company to make sure they feel comfortable with the team and the culture. Great post Gwen!