(article courtesy of HRMorning.com)

Employers spend a lot of time looking for candidates that are a match with the company’s culture. But is that mentality shielding them from the best available talent? 

In short: Yes, if your “culture” isn’t well defined, says Lauren Rivera, a management professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

You can focus too much on ‘fit’

In an article she penned for The New York Times, Rivera warned the concept of company culture has become too vague, and can give managers the idea that they should make hiring decisions based on which candidates they’d rather hang out with.

Rivera researched hiring practices at top banks, consulting firms and law firms by interviewing 120 decision makers and observing recruitment practices over several months.

What she found was focusing too much on whether a candidate was a “good fit” often wasn’t used to find someone with similar organizational values. Instead, it drove managers to seek out people with similar interests to themselves.

Redefining ‘fit’

Rivera says companies can prevent this mistake by doing two things:

  1. Be clear and consistent about what traits are needed to be a “cultural fit.” Ideally, these should be based on data about what values, skills and behaviors are associated with job success and high performance at your organization.
  2. Give interviewers an idea of how different qualities should be weighed. In other words, what’s more important to your organization — a person’s skills, personality or work experience?