In the hiring process, hiring managers will ultimately decide between two candidates with similar qualifications. In an ideal world, the candidate with the best skills for the job would also be a perfect cultural fit. But often, this is not the case.
Hiring managers are sometimes forced to choose between a candidate who may be skilled but not necessarily a good fit for the company culture and a candidate who may not have all the skills required but is a better match for the company’s values.
In this case, should the hiring manager prioritise skills or cultural fit? While both are valuable, it is essential to understand the difference between the two concepts and how they can impact a company.
When skills are the priority
If a company prioritises skills, it means they are looking for someone with specific qualifications and experience to do the job. They want someone who can hit the ground running and doesn’t need much training.
This is especially true for companies in fast-paced industries where time is of the essence. For example, a start-up that is quickly growing may value skills over cultural fit because they need someone who can help them meet its deadlines and goals.
Picking the best-skilled candidate
When looking for skills, the candidate’s qualifications must be relevant to the job. The resume should list specific accomplishments that show they can do the job. In addition, the candidate should be able to articulate their skills in an interview and provide concrete examples of how they have used those skills in previous roles.
To maximise the process, it can be constructive to develop a competency framework. This tool allows you to map out a candidate’s specific skills and experience to succeed in the role. This way, you can evaluate candidates based on how well they meet the criteria and make a more informed decision about who to hire.
For reference, you can look at other sales reps from the team and document the unique things they bring to the role. Then, use this as leverage in the hiring process to find a candidate with a similar skill set.
If hiring your first salesperson, highlight the key areas you want them to succeed in and use that as a guideline for what skills to look for. For example, focus on lead generation or revenue enablement.
When cultural fit is more important
On the other hand, cultural fit is more concerned with whether a candidate’s values align with the company’s. Many hiring managers prefer this because employees who share the same values are more likely to be satisfied with their job and stay with the company for longer.
Additionally, employees who are a good cultural fit are typically easier to train and adapt to new situations because they already buy into the company’s mission. For example, someone passionate about environmentalism may be more likely to stick with an environmentally friendly company, even if they don’t have all the required skills.
The downside is that the company will need to dedicate time to train the new hire on the specific skills they need for the job. This may not be ideal for fast-paced environments or businesses without the time or resources.
Choosing the right fit
When deciding on a candidate based on culture fit, you need to make sure that their values are not only compatible with the company’s but also complementary. For this to work, your company values should be well-defined, widely known within the company, and non-negotiable.
In the interview process, use your company values as a filter to determine if the candidate is a good match. If they express values opposite to your company’s, then they are likely not a good fit. However, if their values are similar but not identical, they may still be a good fit, depending on how important that value is to the company.
The ultimate decision
Deciding between skills and cultural fit has been a debate for a long time, with no clear consensus. While some companies may prefer to hire someone who is a perfect match for their culture, others may find that the best candidate is the one with the right skills.
It’s up to the hiring manager to decide what is more important for the company. If you are stuck between two candidates, ask yourself: which one will be more successful in this role? Which one will add more value to the company?
These questions will help you decide whether to prioritise skills or cultural fit.
Marrying the two
While many dismiss it as wishful thinking, we at Ellivate believe it’s possible to find a candidate who is both skilled and a good cultural fit. It is a matter of refocusing the hiring process to identify candidates with the right skills, experience, and values.
This approach may take more time upfront, but it will save you from the headache of having to choose between two qualified candidates who don’t quite fit your needs.
For instance, search for past accomplishments that match the job requirements and company values. When you find a candidate with a similar background and skillset, take a closer look at their social media presence or blog to see if they’re active in communities that match your company culture.
In interviews, try to assess candidates by asking about their experience in revenue operations. Revenue operations require the alignment of multiple teams to achieve common business goals. This a test of both skills and the ability to work well with others in a team environment.
By understanding how the candidate has aligned and led teams in the past, you can get a good sense of whether they would be able to do the same at your company.
The bottom line
Not all businesses have the time or resources to find the perfect candidate who is skilled and a good cultural fit. In these cases, it is up to the hiring manager to decide which is more important: skills or cultural fit.
If you are forced to choose between the two, consider the company’s needs and values to make the best decision for your business.
If the company requires specific skills to drive growth, then skills should be the priority. However, cultural fit should take precedence if the company places a high value on its culture and wants employees who will buy into its mission.
However, there is merit in being patient. If time can afford, redesign the hiring process to identify candidates who excel in skills and cultural fit.
Check for resumes that highlight both and take advantage of asking pointed questions during interviews. The goal is to find an ideal candidate who will help the company achieve its objectives and maintain its values.
The right candidate is out there – you just need to know how and where to look.
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