Hire for Cultural Fit, Not Just Skill

Sean Dailey, Ytel |  

Right now, you're probably wondering, "Did I read that right? Are they really telling me to hire based on personality over skill?" The answer is YES! Talent acquisition is an intricate, ever-evolving process. The task of growing a company with like-minded individuals who work together is no easy feat. Somewhere along the path of growth, the inevitable question will arise; should I hire for skill or for cultural fit?

Right now, you're probably wondering, "Did I read that right? Are they really telling me to hire based on personality over skill?" The answer is YES! Talent acquisition is an intricate, ever-evolving process. The task of growing a company with like-minded individuals who work together is no easy feat. Somewhere along the path of growth, the inevitable question will arise; should I hire for skill or for cultural fit?

The first thing to note is the fact that you are dealing with people, and people are unique. If you are looking solely for a skill, you’re ignoring a huge piece of the puzzle. That’s not to say skill should play no part, but it should not be the basis of your decision.

The human factor, not a skill set, should be what tips the scale. Skills can be taught and learned, but personality and culture fit simply can’t! By placing emphasis on WHO you’re hiring rather than WHAT you’re hiring, you can discover the talent that will change the game for your business. Here are some ways to ensure you keep this mindset throughout the hiring process.
  • Don’t Be Fooled by Experience

    • As much as experience matters, it can also be a hindrance. When something has been done the same way for years, it’s difficult to break the pattern. When you are looking to hire someone, the goal should be to find someone who is eager to learn how to do new things, or a new way of doing something. In a perfect world, you will find both experience and eagerness.

  • Avoid Groupthink via Uniqueness

    • Throughout the hiring process, it is important to look for people who can bring new ideas and perspective to your company. If you are simply looking for someone who fits the company mold, you run the risk of creating a groupthink situation, which makes it difficult to encourage curiosity and discovery. A helpful way to gauge this is by running situations by the candidate during the interview process, and asking how they would have solved the issue.

  • Search for Passion

    • There is no substitute for passion. Look for people who are excited about what you do, who find the same altruistic or igniting value that you do. Energy and enthusiasm are the most ideal qualities to hire, so don't settle til you find them.
  • Never Underestimate Enthusiasm

    • During the interview process, if you come across someone who is a fan of what you do, that’s a great sign! Someone who comes into the interview excited about the idea of working in your space, on your team, with your product. When we love what we do, we do our best work.
  • Get to Know Them, Not Their Resume

    • A resume can be a great indicator of experience, but ultimately, it’s just text. Often, tose words may not even be true, which is why it’s so important to get to know the person behind the resume. Creating a conversational flow is imperative. Start by asking candidates questions about themselves first instead of their skills. By making the candidate more comfortable, you will see them open up more. As mentioned above, skills can be taught and conversation is the greatest way to gauge a candidate’s aptitude.

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About The Author

Sean Dailey, Ytel

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Sean leads the People, Culture, and Partnership efforts at Ytel. After almost 5 years of agency recruiting, Sean decided to move into an internal recruiting role, where he could have more of a direct effect on growth and people’s lives That’s when he met Ytel and the rest is history. Sean is a huge believer in culture, and puts an emphasis on people and building relationships.


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