Why hiring for cultural fit may trump employees’ qualifications

In the restaurant industry, we talk a lot about culture and how to integrate it throughout each and every aspect of the business.


We take special care to do that in such a way that it doesn’t force the culture upon employees and patrons, but it pulls them to the company instead. Since managers, leaders, and employees are all instrumental to maintaining a successful culture, hiring ones who fit within those cultural parameters is key.


Here’s how to screen and hire applicants based on cultural fit as opposed to qualifications alone.  


The Cost of Hiring


Hiring takes a lot of time, energy, and resources. So when you find yourself needing to fill an open position, you might be inclined to quickly select the candidate with the most impressive resume and then move on. But in doing so, you may incur even greater expense.


The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that turnover may cost a company anywhere from 50 to 60 percent of an employee’s annual salary, on up to 90 to 200 percent. Clearly, choosing a candidate in haste — particularly one who doesn’t complement the company culture — can be costly. Plus, placing qualifications as the most important hiring criteria may mean you miss a whole treasure trove of talent.


Cultural Fit vs Qualifications


When you put too much weight on a candidate’s qualifications, you might overlook other key personality traits. And when you get right down to it, personality is the better indicator of whether an employee will mesh with the existing company culture, mission, core values, and beliefs.


Qualifications are still important, though they may be more of the icing on the cake. Research has shown that employees are more satisfied and likely to stay with the company when their personality complements the job requirements and organizational and managerial style.


It’s important to screen candidates for cultural fit from the start. Here are some questions to ask during the recruitment or interviewing process:


  • Describe the culture of your most recent employer. What did you appreciate most and least about that culture?
  • What is your ideal work environment?
  • Do you prefer to work independently or within a team?
  • What values are most important to you?
  • What attracted you to our company and this particular position?
  • Based on what you know so far about our company culture, how do you see yourself fitting into that culture?


The candidate’s responses will shine a light on their personality as well as the kind of work environment and culture in which they thrive. If most of those responses align with your own company’s culture, then the candidate is likely to be a good cultural fit. Further evaluation of their complete skillset, including qualifications and willingness to learn, may just provide all of the information you need to make a hiring decision.


Carrie Luxem is the founder and President of Restaurant HR Group, a full-service HR group based in Chicago, IL. Carrie will be sharing her wisdom from over 15 years in restaurant human resources through guest-posts on the Homebase blog.

Discover how Homebase can help even more by visiting our HR and Compliance page.

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