Tuesday, December 6, 2016

‘Culture fit’: LinkedIn HR head offers caution

Appreciation to Pat Wadors, Head of HR at LinkedIn, for her cautionary take on using the term “culture fit” (LinkedIn Talent Solutions’ “Talent on Tap” video series and blog). I share Wadors’ concern that assessing for culture fit can lead to a “hire like me” mentality.

As a person who struggles with unwritten social “norms” that govern human behavior, I fear that screening for culture fit could too easily result in discrimination against candidates who, while talented, may have difficulty navigating the social aspects of hiring.

Will the interviewer see my dedication and passion to do the best job I can, to continually learn and improve — or will my awkward responses during a “small-talk” conversation create dislike in the interviewer, to such a degree that this personal bias overshadows my positive attributes?

(As an aside: “Ask the Expert” Kerry Magro, speaking about underemployment among people on the autism spectrum, recommends job-training sessions as one possible alternative to formal interviews — whether or not the potential candidate is documented on-the-spectrum. Job-training allows candidates to demonstrate their ability to actually do the job, instead of attempting to put it into words in a setting that may be difficult.)

I appreciate the detail with which Wadors assesses how and where an employee is able to influence the company’s “culture.” Stylistic fit, skillset fit and expectation fit — this is not meant to be a case of hiring someone who looks, sounds, acts just like you or who superficially and glibly impresses you with his or her social likability.

When Wadors explains them, the concepts seem clear and the assessment can be a two-way process.

I also appreciate Wadors’ acknowledgement about the importance of malleability. Company culture can grow and evolve and so can the successful candidate who is open to continual self-improvement.

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