How Can You Link Corporate Culture to Candidate Fit?

15 Aug

If corporate culture is used as the justification for hiring job candidates who do not meet job requirements and rejecting candidates that do, then it is important to understand what corporate culture means.  Is corporate culture reality or a myth?  Is corporate culture primarily (not always) an excuse for a manager to hire candidates he/she likes the look of, rather than those who best meet job requirements?

Corporate culture may be reality in some large organizations, and affect the ethical way the company operates. It may include some commitments to its employees and to the community, but is unlikely to set hiring standards (personal characteristics) that candidates for most jobs have to meet.  If corporate culture is well understood and impacts directly on day-to-day operations, then the driving force of the culture will be the organization.  The culture will embrace all new employees and regardless of their backgrounds, all employees will be assimilated into the culture and become part of it – each in his or her own way.   Most employees accept and understand that they must adapt to the way the organization operates – as employees paid to perform work in a prescribed manner.

It is ludicrous to imagine that a corporate culture would be so fragile or at risk that hiring a few people who are withdrawn or awkward in some ways, but otherwise great workers, would threaten the organization.  If the culture is reality and reinforced by competent management, they are likely to adapt and flourish.  Culture and values leadership is driven primarily by the organization, not by the regular employees, particularly new hires. The diversity of employees, however, can strengthen and enrich the corporate culture.

Small companies, particularly owner operated, may have a stronger corporate culture although they may not give it that name.  A small organization with a high level of functional overlap and interaction has to operate as a cohesive team and “fit”, particularly flexibility, has to be understood and explored with candidates.  Possibly that is the purest form of corporate culture, defined by the way the business actually operates.

Probably most discriminatory hiring is by local management who may claim that hiring the type of people they like (e.g. with the right attitude) is the same as hiring based on corporate culture.  At the same time, an involved recruiter (external or internal) may interpret the manager’s preferences as corporate culture. That, however, would not make sense, unless all the managers in the organization express the same preferences.  It is difficult to reconcile conflicting “corporate culture” in the same or different functional areas as legitimate components of the one true corporate culture.

Corporate culture must be company-wide and reflect the interests of the total organization in an ethically and socially responsible way.  An employee who fits well in one area should fit well (similar function) in any other area.  If hiring is significantly influenced by local biases, including the biases of individual managers, then managers may indeed strive to hire people they like and probably similar to the group already in place.  Does that make sense?  Is that perpetuating sameness and probably limiting flexibility of the function and readiness to adapt to change? 

Should competent managers be able to build teams including individuals with many different styles and backgrounds and by harnessing that diversity achieve great things? Corporate culture is not simply what the organization claims or publishes as its culture.  Corporate culture has to describe the way the company actually operates, not simply PR make believe.

Thank you very much for your interest.  What is true corporate culture?  To what extent can corporate culture affect hiring practices?  I look forward to any thoughts and comments you may have.



7 Responses to “How Can You Link Corporate Culture to Candidate Fit?”

  1. Sooze August 18, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    One definition of corporate culture is “corporate culture describes and governs the ways a company’s owners and employees think, feel and act…culture may be based on beliefs spelled out in your mission statement.” As an example, where I currently work, we require candidates to have “knowledge of the philosophy and principles of a learning college.” That is a desired qualification for all positions. However, even if you have no idea what that means, you can do some research to gain an understanding of the philosophy and principles of a learning college. With that said, if an organization is looking for candidates to fit their already established culture, perhaps it would be beneficial to include what that culture is either in the job posting or as a desired qualification. It must be a corporate culture that can be defined, outlined, easily understood for if not, you will have a dearth of candidates who will never fit your company culture.

    Perhaps by giving some information about what the company culture is, how it relates specifically to the company’s goals, products/services will allow candidates to glean if this is the right “fit” for them before applying. If company culture is going to be used as a deciding factor of whether or not to hire, the candidate needs to be aware of that and have the opportunity to address his/her knowledge of the company culture and how they would fit.

    It’s bad enough when candidates are told they don’t fit but even more when they don’t know what it is they aren’t fitting.

    • ianclive August 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

      Hi Susan,

      You make excellent suggestions. If a company has a real and living corporate culture, the applicant should research and understand what that culture is. It should be available online and as part of the advertised material pertinent to the job, available prior to making an application.

      There has been a great deal of discussion on this subject within the AHRI group, and I was impressed by the way the Victorian Government (Australia) seems to set out cultural aspects for review by candidates to ensure that they are comfortable with what is required – point 1 of a 4 point process:

      “1. Values
      These tell you about the way the organisation works and what it expects of its employees. Check you are comfortable that these values fit with the way you want to work”.

      I am sure many larger organizations have a similar approach. Not necessarily using corporate culture as hiring criteria, but as a subject on which there should be understanding and agreement with more detailed questioning, presumably, on aspects relevant to a specific job.

      Thank you, Susan, you make such excellent points that are really appreciated.


  2. Gavrilović Živojin August 19, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    If hiring is significantly influenced by local biases, including the biases of individual managers, then managers may indeed strive to hire people they like and probably similar to the group already in place.
      It makes no sense and it is the systematic destruction of the company.
    Of quality changes, because there is nothing to implement projects without economic justification and risk assessment.

    • ianclive August 19, 2014 at 11:53 am #

      Hi Zivojin,

      So nice to hear from you. I agree that in this competitive environment, we need to hire the smartest people with the best skills relevant to our business needs. The people we hire should, of course, be team players who work well in our environment and are ethical and honest. We need the best people to be able to move forward confidently.

      Hiring based on personal biases and preferences (not directly work related) may promote a comfortable “country club” type environment, but it will not get the job done and may indeed perpetuate sameness – the status quo!

      Thank you, Zivojin, for your great input on this subject.


      • Gavrilović Živojin August 19, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

        ,,The people we hire should, of course, be team players who work well in our environment and are ethical and honest. We need the best people to be able to move forward confidently”.
        This is the essence Ian

        We have long been working on it and we have a big problem for the following reasons:

        Puppet regime blocked all media and stops hiring professional and skilled people.

        Best regards.

  3. ianclive August 19, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

    Hi Zivojin,

    Thank you for your further comment. The political environment can certainly affect the way business is conducted – sometimes in a positive way (upholding human rights and non-discriminatory practices) and sometimes very different.

    Thank you and very best wishes,



  1. Mejores posts agosto-2014 | Glocal Thinking - December 15, 2014

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