Lever's Recruiting Director on Hiring for Culture Fit Versus Hiring for Likeability

January 20, 2016 at 6:00 AM by Kathleen de Lara


Of all the wonders of the hiring world, gauging a candidate's cultural fit could very easily place near the top of the list. Every company has a recognizable culture, but defining that culture differs person to person. Cultural fit is, in part, founded on an org's desired employee attitudes and behaviors – how people conduct themselves and communicate with others – and desired traits of one team may not be the same as another's.

What's even more complex is understanding how people outside the company can thrive in and contribute to the prized work environment your team has carefully and thoughtfully cultivated. Recruiters often defer to a candidate's alignment to the company's core values as a benchmark for cultural fit, but a candidate who believes in these values doesn't necessarily translate into an employee who will execute accordingly.

Vetting a candidate's resume is the first step, but how do recruiters assess the skills and qualifications that aren't on paper? Cue Amanda Bell. 

We chatted with Lever's Director of Recruiting to learn where hiring teams go wrong when hiring for culture fit becomes a matter of gut feel and a candidate's likeability – and how to avoid the consequences of hiring a homogenous team. 

Hiring for "culture fit" is a fairly new concept in recruiting. Why do you think companies are so focused on aligning their employees with their culture? 

"Culture fit" can be a handy catch-all term, but identifying ultimately what makes up a great fit at your company is paramount, as well as assessing how culture fit plays into the overall candidate assessment. Understanding how culture fit is weighed and valued at your company is important before even bringing candidates in. It can be tempting to lump reasons for hiring or rejecting candidates into culture fit (and it can save time), but hammering out what you and your company are looking for will save you time and resources in the long term. 

How are orgs paying the price misunderstanding how to assess soft skills?

Interviewers often conflate soft skills with technical proficiency. A great talker may not be a great executor when it comes to getting the job done. When organizations bring in under-qualified candidates – whether they're under-qualified in "culture fit" or skills fit – organizations eventually assume the cost of onboarding and training a new employee, only to lose him or her soon because of poor fit. It's an expensive mistake to make. 

Who should check out our webinar?

If you're just beginning to think about your company's culture, this is for you! Or, if you're overhauling and honing in on what your company values in the "culture fit" vein, you should definitely tune in. 

What's your story, Amanda? What do you love about recruiting?

Originally, I was applying to grad school and waiting to hear back when I started what was meant to be a short-term university recruiting role at Microsoft. I've stayed in recruiting because I love connecting people with fantastic companies and job opportunities. Playing a positive role in such an important decision in people's lives keeps me loving my role every day. 

Share with us your three secrets for kicking butt in the hiring biz!

  • Don't underestimate how small the hiring space is. Someone knows someone, so whether you need an intro to a candidate or want to network with other thought leaders in the space, check out who you know!
  • Overcommunicate with your candidates. Too much information is always better than too little information, especially about when they can expect to hear back about next steps.
  • Get to know your hiring managers. How do they like to communicate? When are the best times of day to catch them? What do they value? If you know your hiring manager well, you can often anticipate questions or needs and get crackin'. 

Liked what you read? There's more where that came from – join us for How Hiring for Culture Fit is Hurting Your Company to learn other techniques for vetting those tricky candidate intangibles.

amanda_bellAmanda Bell is the Director of Recruiting at Lever where she oversees the hiring processes behind the talent building the innovative, candidate-centric applicant tracking system. Before joining the Lever team, Amanda was the technical recruiting manager at Yelp, managing 15 recruiters, coordinators, and interns while building out the recruiting and development strategies for junior and senior level employees. Amanda received her bachelor's degree in English from Colorado State University.
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