Employee Skillset or Cultural Fit: What to Emphasize More When Recruiting?

The debate on opting for a skilled or a culturally fit candidate will always exist. The decision, however, depends on the specific requirements of the recruitment companies. Employers should aim to maintain a balance by hiring skilled employees who are also aware of the corporate culture.

For an employer, hiring people is not an easy process. You find yourself thrown into one discussion after another, and the quest to get the ideal candidate that ticks all the checkboxes is always on. One such debate that usually rages during the hiring process is, whether to hire candidates with skills or to look for a candidate who is a cultural fit for the job. And finding a conclusive result can be a real dilemma for the employer.

Skill sets are easy to discover and recognise. They are present on the CV, and a mere look can help you gauge whether the candidate will fit your required skill or not. Further interview rounds will make it clear whether they have the skills they spoke of and the capability to perform. So, identifying the skill sets of a person is quite straightforward.

The big dilemma

But how will one define whether or not a candidate is a cultural fit? How will you identify whether the employee will fit in easily with your company culture? Culture fit is an abstract concept and is rather hard to identify and measure than a skill set. Ideally, a company can recognise whether the candidate is culturally fit or not only when they find that the candidate is not acting according to the core values of the company and the company culture. This means that an employer first will have to hire the candidate to perform the check. That’s counter-intuitive and not feasible for a business.

This is where the dilemma emerges — whether to give more weight to the skills and talent of an individual that can propel an organisation to new levels, or focus on the candidate that fits in perfectly with the company culture and its core values. The challenge is more difficult than one anticipates, and taking decisions becomes a tough job for the employer. And one cannot discover which is the right path to take. So, let us discuss what employers and recruiters should focus on while hiring.

Inconsistencies in company culture

In general, a company has different departments performing a variety of tasks with an internal culture of their own. For instance, the sales department of the company will have values that may not resemble those of the customer service department, as their fields of work, are poles apart. But still, both departments work together for the benefit of the organisation. This explains why a uniform company culture cannot be easily put into practice in an organisation, especially if it’s a large one. Though both are customer-facing, the role of sales is very different from that of customer service. The former has to be proactive and persuasive to crack the deal, while the latter has to be calm and composed to solve customer queries. Thus, one candidate may not fit into one department’s culture but can certainly fit into another.

Having this flexibility makes recruitment an easy process for the employer as they can find relevant departments for the candidates where they see a cultural fit. The hiring process becomes adaptable to accommodate each type of candidate in the company depending on their talent and skills, rather than being rigid on seeking a specific culture fit candidate.

Culture fit candidates

Firstly, you have to note that it is important to note that a candidate who has little to no understanding of the corporate culture could not survive in that world This is, perhaps, because they’ve never previously worked or been employed in such a setup to understand their ambience and work ethics.

So, apart from talent and skills, sometimes it also becomes important to hire candidates that fit culturally with the core values of the company. Although recruiters can take the liberty to ignore this aspect while recruiting, the candidate has to be made aware of the company culture and taught to act in alignment to its core values.

Removing the differences between culture and skillset

Earlier employers emphasised more on hiring people that possess expertise and skills for the job. However, only recently has the scenario changed. Nowadays, recruiters and hiring agencies seek individuals who can balance skillset as well as culture alignment for the organisation. Employers look for a healthy mix of both, as they feel it is beneficial for the organisation.

Therefore, an ideal candidate should possess the right skill and talent to perform along with having the necessary knowledge and understanding of the cultural and social aspects of the company. And finally, the right attitude is the most important trait that a candidate should possess — because it is easy to teach the skills required to perform the job, but difficult to train someone on soft skills or the company culture.

Applying innovative methods

Discussion and debates have been going on and will continue in the future about what is the right parameter to select a candidate — culture or skill. But it is vital for your company to arrive at a suitable decision. Indecision will end up hampering the organisation. The best way recruitment companies can come to a conclusion is by successfully separating the expertise they want in a candidate from the specific skills that can be acquired through training.

Because the skillset of a candidate can vary, differentiating your required skills can give you the flexibility to hire culture fit candidates and bring more balance into your organisation. But for this to materialise, you must provide them with quality training on the essential but non-mandatory skills.

The debate around whether to opt for a skilled candidate or a culturally fit candidate will always be omnipresent. The decision, however, depends on the specific requirements of the recruitment companies. Thus, the employer should aim to maintain a balance by hiring skilled employees who are also aware of the corporate culture.

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One of the prime contributors for this blog, Expertise in Staffing and Recruitment, Content Strategist by Profession. A Music Lover & Traveller by Choice.

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