Does Cultural Fit Impact Hiring Success?

September 08, 2017 | Evelyn Chow

What can organisations gain by aligning candidates with cultural fit during the hiring process?

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Ignoring Cultural Fit Can Be Costly

All organisations will definitely benefit from an awareness and benefits of the role of cultural fit in the recruitment and selection process. The challenge lies in knowing how to strike the delicate balance between probing further to ascertain a candidate's likelihood to succeed in that organisation's culture and recognising there is sufficient 'evidence' of a good cultural alignment. 


Personally, I have seen cases where very successful candidates completely underperformed in exactly the same role when they joined another organisation with a very different culture. I distinctly remember a case where a senior candidate really struggled with being based in an office location that was separate from the other business divisions, and either didn't want or could not adapt to an environment that was high on ambiguity and low on structure. Operating in an amorphous and highly siloed environment while being new to an organisation does require resilience and adaptability of a very high level and since aspects of the organisation's culture are unlikely to go away overnight, it certainly pays to be able to assess and make the right hiring decision. 

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Cultural Intelligence in Asia Pacific 

Cultural fit extends well beyond being aligned with the unique culture of an organisation. Intercultural interactions and dynamics come into play significantly in Asia Pacific where the workforce can be highly heterogeneous. Such nuances are tightly interwoven into the fabric of an organisation's culture. Organisations that invest the time to assess candidates on their cultural intelligence will reap the rewards as a culturally intelligent employee will be that much more successful in developing trust and strong relationships, and consequently, make the organisation successful. Having said this, an organisation must be well equipped to deal with cultural diversity and should have policies or practices as well as a culturally intelligent management in place to better support a diverse workforce culture.

It Pays to Do Your Due Diligence 

Organisations expend a lot of resources to recruit, onboard and train employees, and should maximise the outcomes by developing and committing themselves to rigorous hiring practices.

Incorporating competency based interviewing questions that relate to the topic of the sort of organisational culture that the individual enjoys working in, and description of their experience and any challenges faced in a multicultural work environment all contribute to a more robust hiring process. 

Beyond the tangibles, the morale of an organisation can suffer if an unsuccessful hire was a particularly visible one and the effects could even extend beyond the organisation to impact perceptions of external stakeholders such as clients, suppliers, analysts and shareholders.

It is certainly a fine balance to create a workplace that encourages diversity while optimizing cultural fit at the same time but it will pay off.

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