Skills Vs Culture Fit: The Great Debate, Which Is More Important?

by Sarah Reyes

Skills vs culture fit, which is more important to find the perfect talent? In today’s highly competitive world, hiring only for skills might be insufficient if the candidate’s personality won’t fit into the organization’s culture. 

The other way is, they might have the cultural fitness, but they don’t have the most essential skills that match the job requirements.  This sounds challenging right?

In today’s post, I am talking about balancing between skills and culture fit and what to know about skills vs culture fit. Keep reading.

Skills vs Culture Fit: What is cultural fit?                  

Today’s hiring managers recognize that business fit is a significant factor to consider when training and onboarding new employees. As if they don’t mesh with the culture in general, they will not stick for long, and that’s bad for business.

Skills Vs Culture Fit: Cost companies spend for a new hire and a bad hire

How much does a new hire cost a company? They spend $986 to train every new employee, depending on the business’ size. For example, small businesses tend to spend the most for every new hire, generally about $1,096/employee, according to the 2018 Training Industry Report from ADP.

How about bad hires? Seventy four percent of companies make a bad hire based on estimates.  This is, again, bad for business. According to Gallup research, companies spend an average of $450 billion annually in terms of lost productivity due to disengaged employees. (Source)

skills vs culture fit

Business culture is the concept of screening applicants that is based on the cultural impact they’d bring to the organization. It aims to align the beliefs, values, and behaviors of the employer and employee.  From the way that employees would interact to the team members and their communication styles to their attitude would impact and shape the entire organizational culture.

A company’s culture is the set of beliefs and values of the founders of the organization and that applies to the environment in which the employees work, as well as the interactions between the staff and management, and collective employee force.

Much like an ecosystem that involves a complex organism network and its components that include systems, tools, technology, premises, and humans, this is business culture, which varies from one company to another.

In the HR world, the primary objective of the hiring managers is to find people matching this culture. For example, a person who works well alone may not be the right fit for an organization that has a collaborative approach. But in order to improve the culture of an organization, hiring managers should work on building teams composed of people that work in harmony.

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Skills vs Culture Fit: What is skill set?

In order to compare skills vs culture fit effectively, let us also define what skills set is.

Job fit refers to one’s ability to take on the role and the responsibilities involved in it, while also being able to seamlessly integrate with the existing employees of the company.

For the recruiters and hiring managers, they need to find suitable candidates who possess the right skills in order to fill the job and perform the duties it requires. 

Skills set refer to how suitable a person is for the position. It’s the set of abilities, knowledge, and experience to do a job. Some areas of skill set are research and planning, human relations, leadership, accounting, computer skills, and management. There are two types of skills –

·        Hard skills can be taught and quantified. A few of these include technical abilities and knowledge that a job requires, and examples are accounting and computer programming.

·        Soft skills, also called people skills, aren’t easy to quantify, and they often relate to a person’s ability to work with other people and their personality. A few examples are critical thinking, attention to detail, listening, communication, empathy, and conflict resolution abilities.

Skills Vs Culture Fit: Which Is More Important?

Some hiring managers hire for skills, not regarding the cultural fitness of a candidate. This can be due to being pressed with limited time because they have to fill in the roles as soon as possible.

In this case, they’re tempted to hire someone with a skill set without regarding cultural fit to keep the ball rolling. However, the problem arises when this person, even though with a high level of skills, does not possess the attitude to fit into the team or organization.

This situation can be challenging. You can always train someone to develop the necessary skills; however, it is a different story to alter one’s personality or attitude for cultural fitness.

Skill sets are important to possess, but cultural fit should not be left behind when considering hiring new people into your team. As someone might have the right skills for the job, but this will not add value to the team if this person is not a cultural fit. Otherwise, the unfit attitude or personality can be detrimental to the performance of the entire team.  It will also cost money and resources to the organization.

For the proponents of skill set in this hot debate, you cannot and should not hire solely on the basis of culture fit, but hiring managers should also look into what the candidate would bring to the table – of course with the required skills to perform the job efficiently.  

Hiring based only on cultural fit can make for an organization with limited diversity. On the other hand, hiring people with the right skills although they have varying personalities and attitudes can add diversity into the team and improve company culture. These talents can have different work styles and skill levels; thus, there will be more fresh ideas, allowing for more possibilities.

It can be easier to train new hires for the right skills so that they can perform and add value to your organization than to alter their personality and attitude.

Or you can go for someone lacking the skills initially but can mesh perfectly with the culture of your organization. In this case, there is no bad habit to break or negative attitude to change because they’re already fit with the culture of your organization.

Provided that the person has the great potential, ability to learn, and drive to succeed, hiring managers can shift their focus on candidates who may initially be lacking or have no skill set but have the cultural fitness, giving them the opportunity to train people based on their company culture.

Employees who are a cultural fit can easily mesh with teammates, while also inspiring and motivating them.  So, while they need more training and time to master their job duties than those who already possess the skills, they have high potential and can be great assets of your organization.

Cultural fitness can’t also be taught. It can be a disaster for your organization to hire people that cannot effectively collaborate with team members. Hiring people that don’t have cultural fitness can also result in poor work performance and lower job satisfaction and morale. It can also lead to a toxic workplace, reduced productivity, damage to your company’s reputation, and higher turnover.

skills vs culture fit

The Balancing Act: Skills vs Culture Fit

For every role, hiring managers should carefully consider the skills that the new hires possess. Many of such skills can be assessed and evaluated in the interviews, mainly in the responses of the applicant.  And based on such information, they can assess the skills of the candidate. But then, it is also important to balance both skills and culture fit. Here is how.

What’s important to your brand? Skills vs Culture Fit

Hiring managers that know and recognize what is important for their company can make hiring easier because they’re clear of the specific type of person, who will add value to their team. 

·        What are the required skills for the job?

·        What kind of people will mesh well in the company culture?

·        Should you hire people that are good working alone or with other team members?

·        Does your organization value creative people more than you do with those that stick with the rules or are conservative?

Answering these and other important questions can help you figure out what matters to your brand. By determining this factor, you’re more likely to make a more objective hiring decision. And also taking an inventory of these points can ensure you will successfully hire the right people for the organization.

What skills and traits are essential and nice to have?

We’re not in a perfect world. Absolutely, you will never find someone that possesses all the skills and traits that you’re looking for to fill a role. And if you would wait for that perfect candidate, chances are you will take a long time to fill a role, and this can have detrimental effects to your organization – reduced productivity and low morale.

So, what are the non-negotiable skills and traits and which among those can be nice to have but not a requirement? In most cases, hiring managers should look for the people that possess many of the skills and traits that they’re searching for.

skills vs culture fit

What about asking your employees for feedback?

Employee feedback can be your valuable resource because it offers you insights about which strategies and practices work and which do not.

This can help you in improving your hiring process, too. You should not be afraid to ask your employees for feedback and suggestions on the kind of people they love working with and they think work well for the team. You can also ask them about what kind of people they think will do well in the company and add value to the team.  

Asking for the opinion of your current employees can also make them feel appreciated and that their voice is valuable. So, when trying to balance between skills and culture fit, you might also consider asking your current employees for what they think.

Skills vs culture fit: How to assess holistically?

In many cases, it can be tempting to look at a candidate based on their interview performance or their impressive resume.  However, any of these may be insufficient to determine if the candidate is the right fit or not. 

That’s why it pays off to look at the candidate as a whole – all the aspects – including skills, personality, knowledge, attitude, and past work experiences.  Doing this, hiring managers would increase their chances of hiring successfully.

Related read: A good resource on holistic measure for holistic talent acquisition

Instead of hiring based solely on the skills or the cultural fit, companies might want to look into holistic recruiting and hiring, which focuses on the employee as a whole. It is a person-centered approach meaning that the person is screened and evaluated in the entire hiring process.

Many companies use holistic recruiting in their strategy. What is good about this approach is that hiring managers or recruitment professionals focus on the candidate’s entirety, not just on their skills or proficiency.

skills vs culture fit

Why balance skills vs cultural fit? Skills vs Culture Fit

Filling up roles with the right people for the job is a critical factor for the success of your business because your employees are front and center of your organization. After all, your business is only as good as they are because each of them represents your company to your clients or customers. Here are the benefits of hiring the right people for the job.

Reduced employee burnout

Employee burnout affects the entire team’s performance. It happens when there aren’t enough employees or workers to handle the job properly. Thus, it also leaves a lot of companies understaffed.  When this happens, their current employees will need to work longer hours and handle more tasks than they should, and this leads to employee burnout, exhaustion, and increased employee stress.

But when you hire the right people with the needed skills and suitable culture fitness, you’ll be able to provide enough rest and relaxation for your staff and keep their hours regular to avoid burnout. Thus, striking a balance of cultural fit and skills when finding and hiring new employees, you’ll keep regular work hours and rest hours, maintain high production, reduce turnover, and keep current employees satisfied.

Company growth

Both short- and long-term business growths is another benefit of hiring the right people to your organization because doing it right the first time ensures you maximize employee performance, increase productivity, save money and time, keep team morale high, and potentially increase the bottom line.

As your company grows, finding the right people also reduces the number of professionals to hire in the future. And as they’re engaged and interested, they’ll be willing to accept larger roles as your business expands. The right people are ready to help your organization in the long-term and contribute to its growth at all levels.

skills vs culture fit

Improved workplace safety

Hiring people with proper knowledge and skills and the right attitude needed for the job, you’ll reduce risk in the workplace because employees can perform the job and follow safety protocols. It is the opposite of hiring inexperienced people with a poor attitude. Their lack of attention and care and lack of knowledge can increase workplace danger, endangering themselves or their co-workers in the process.

Reduced hiring costs

Improving your recruiting and hiring strategy can also reduce the amount of money spent on each new hire. To avoid spending more money on hiring or losing money in general, you must hire the right person for the job, ensuring you’re also not replacing bad employees or hiring new ones often.

The average cost-per-hire is $4,129, according to a study by SHRM. Just remember, you’re spending money on every hire. This will cost more if you make a bad hire – $14,900/bad hire – is the amount you’ll lose, according to CareerBuilder.

Final Thoughts on Skills vs Culture Fit

Cultural fit is a significant factor to consider when hiring new employees or building a team. As if the new hires do not work well with their co-workers, they are less likely to stick around and perform at their best. But while you should look for candidates that can blend in with the rest of the team, you should also see to it that you’re finding the right people with the skills to perform their tasks and duties efficiently.  

Needless to say, employers should strike a balance between skills vs culture fit. This makes hiring more challenging, but when balance is achieved, organizations can ensure hiring of right people successfully, reduce bad hires and turnover, and increase productivity.

So, again, recruiters and hiring managers should look at the candidate as a whole during the entire recruiting and hiring process. They may also want to look at their current recruitment and hiring strategy and figure out areas of improvement to ensure that both skills and cultural fit are considered, eliminating the need to compare skills vs cultural fit because they’re both important after all and are essential to the success of an organization.

How do you balance skills vs cultural fit? Tell us in the comments. Finally, share this article on social media and help HR professionals find the right talent.

Photo credit PEXELS

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1 comment

Innovationen sind immer doof, bis sie fertig sind - August 31, 2023 - 8:00 am

[…] Culture Fit over Skills Fit wird hier erklärt […]

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