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7 Keys to Achieving a Balanced Recruitment Strategy Getting the balance between skills and cultural fit right is more art than science.

By Pedro A. Barboglio Murra

Key Takeaways

  • It is crucial to differentiate between soft skills and hard skills when hiring.
  • Companies should determine their mission statement, values and skills needed before recruitment.
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Imagine building a team like crafting a masterpiece; every hire adds a unique touch, and recruitment stands as a pillar that determines the future trajectory of a company.

The debate between prioritizing skills or cultural fit has been longstanding, with both having their merits. But how did we arrive at this crossroad, and how do businesses navigate this complex decision-making process?

The indispensable nature of skills

Productivity relies heavily on abilities, which determine an employee's capacity to perform assignments and add value to the organization's development. It is crucial to differentiate between "soft skills," encompassing qualities like effective communication and collaboration, and "hard skills," referring to specialized proficiencies required for a specific job. Within industries such as finance, healthcare and engineering, certain technical abilities, like a software developer's expertise in a specific programming language, are indispensable.

Cultural fit

While skills are tangible, cultural fit is more nebulous. It's about how an individual aligns with the company's ethos, values and work environment. An employee might be highly skilled but might struggle in a company if their personal values clash with the company's culture.

An individual used to a hierarchical work environment might find it challenging in a flat organizational structure. Furthermore, companies with strong cultures often report higher employee satisfaction and lower turnover rates, emphasizing the importance of cultural fit.

Related: Are You Hiring a Cultural Fit? Do You Actually Want To?

Challenges in prioritizing one over the other

When companies overly prioritize skills, they might end up with a technically proficient workforce that lacks cohesion. On the other hand, focusing too much on cultural fit might lead to a harmonious but potentially less skilled team.

This balance is especially tricky for startups, where every hire plays a pivotal role in shaping the company's future. There's also the risk of creating an echo chamber if cultural fit is overemphasized, potentially stifling innovation.

The global shift: Offshoring, nearshoring and the cultural quandary

The globalization of the corporate world has added another layer to the recruitment puzzle. With companies increasingly looking beyond borders to hire talent, the cultural fit becomes even more crucial. Factors like communication styles, holiday schedules and even daily work routines come into play.

For instance, a company in the US might find it beneficial to offshore to India or the Philippines to get a friendly budget, but they'd have to consider the cultural nuances that come with it.

Here are seven tips for achieving a balanced recruitment strategy.

1. Define what "cultural fit" means for your company

As a first step in recruiting, you should clarify what "cultural fit" within your organization means. To achieve this, you need to go deeper than just listing core values; you also need to identify the behaviors, attitudes and work styles most aligned with your company's mission and objectives. Prepare a comprehensive list that can guide the recruitment process by collaborating with team leaders and even existing employees.

Related: How to Develop a Company Vision and Values That Employees Buy Into

2. Use behavioral interviews

Candidates are asked to describe past experiences and actions during behavioral interviews, emphasizing past experiences and actions rather than hypothetical scenarios. Besides assessing their technical abilities, you can also gain valuable insight into their problem-solving skills, adaptability and how they handle workplace challenges, all of which are essential for cultural fit.

3. Implement skill and personality assessments

An objective measure of a candidate's hard and soft skills, as well as their personality traits, can be achieved through standardized tests. For example, aptitude tests can help you determine a candidate's job-related skills, while personality tests can reveal their interpersonal skills and cultural fit. If you combine these assessments, you can get a clearer picture of a candidate's suitability.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Personality Assessments Can't Predict High Performance

4. Involve team members in the interview process

When existing team members participate in the interview process, they can provide multiple perspectives on candidates' suitability. Insights into how a candidate's skills would complement those of the existing team can often be provided by team members as to whether they would fit well within the existing team dynamics.

5. Consider trial periods

A short-term contract or probationary period can serve as a "test drive" for both the employer and the candidate. During this time, you can assess how well the new hire's skills and personality fit within the company culture and how effectively they contribute to team objectives. This allows both parties to evaluate the working relationship and make informed decisions about long-term fit.

6. Continuously review and adapt

The ideal balance between skills and cultural fit can change as your company evolves, enters new markets or adopts new technologies. To ensure that your recruitment strategies align with your organization's current needs and goals, reviewing them and adjusting them regularly is crucial.

7. Be mindful of cultural differences in global recruitment

When hiring talent from different countries, it's crucial to consider the cultural implications. While offshoring or nearshoring can offer cost benefits and access to a broader talent pool, it also introduces challenges related to cultural fit. For instance, communication styles, work ethics, and even holiday schedules can differ significantly from one country to another. Therefore, conducting a thorough cultural assessment and skill evaluation is essential when recruiting internationally. This could involve understanding local customs, work ethics and legal requirements. Companies can also consider cultural assimilation programs to help new hires integrate more seamlessly into the existing work environment.

Conclusion

Getting the balance between skills and cultural fit right is more art than science. In order to succeed, a candidate must be considered not only for their technical abilities but also for their ability to fit within the organizational culture. Implementing a balanced recruitment strategy incorporating both these elements can lead to teams that are not only skilled but also harmonious, leading to greater productivity, job satisfaction, and long-term success.

Pedro A. Barboglio Murra

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder and CEO of Remote Team Solutions

Pedro A. Barboglio Murra — the founder and CEO of Remote Team Solutions — has a demonstrated history of success in different industries, including the staffing industry, IT and food manufacturing.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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