There are many factors an employer must consider when choosing a candidate to fill a position. Obviously experience and qualifications are paramount, but there's more to a prospective employee's success within a company than just what's on his or her resume.
It's common to hear hiring managers and HR professionals talk about cultural fit in regards to employees. While this is often a key consideration when determining which applicants are the best-suited for a position, it can be difficult to define in concrete terms. Here are a few things to think about when trying to quantify this nebulous but important factor.
Going with your gut?
It may not seem like the most professional or scientific way of looking at things, but it turns out that much of the time, the question of cultural fit simply comes down to an employer's instinct surrounding a given candidate. Oftentimes hiring managers, especially those who have been at it for years, develop almost a sixth sense about an applicant and whether or not he or she will fit in well with the rest of the team.
A slippery slope
The difficult part about the subjectivity of determining cultural fit is that it can sometimes be distorted and used to justify prejudicial practices.
"It's usually this sense that this person doesn't seem 'like us,' like she or he won't party well or play well," Katherine Klein, vice dean of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative told Human Resource Executive Online.
Ensuring that everyone on the team will get along and that there won't be any significant personality clashes is an important part of the hiring process, but it can raise a significant issue. Namely, how do you draw the sometimes incredibly fine line between rejecting an applicant based on a legitimate concern about cultural fit and turning away a candidate because of what ultimately amounts to discrimination?
Where fit goes awry
One area that is rife for possible tension in this regard is that of religious freedom versus discrimination. At what point does an employee's right to hold his or her own religious beliefs become outweighed by an employer's legitimate concern that a person may not be the best cultural fit for the company?
It can be a difficult question to try and answer, and there are multiple perspectives to consider. Small-business owners wrestling with this and similar issues should consider enlisting the help of PEO companies. These HR outsourcing firms can provide expert guidance on preserving your company's culture without stepping over any critical legal boundaries.