Culturedation: Unsure about candidate’s Company Culture fit. Hire or Reject?

"I like the candidate. Has the right skills and experience. But I'm just not sure if the candidate is the right fit for our company culture..."

Sound familiar?

This is a very common dilemma that hiring managers often face, even after going through a thorough company culture fit assessment process. There's bound to be situations where you are simply unsure and 50-50 on the candidate for company culture fit.

Add together with the other potential hiring challenges, such as:

  • The role is urgent
  • The role requires niche skills and experience
  • The team is currently overworked to cover for this vacant headcount's responsibilities

Thus, it is crucial to hire and fill the vacant headcount as soon as possible.

So, To Hire Or Reject?

Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution to answer this hiring dilemma, as every circumstantial context is likely different.

However, with that being said, below are some important considerations for you to take into account in deciding whether to hire or reject.

If You Decide To Hire

A recipe for disaster is to proceed with the hiring without a proper action plan to address the potential company culture fit gaps and just 'hope for the best'.

You need to be transparent with the candidate on the identified potential red flags, discuss them openly and set clear expectations to be managed, even before the candidate joins.

Hiring managers may also be thinking, "We can hire the candidate and 'give the candidate a chance' to change and try to fit into our company culture."

Some even go one ambitious step further, confident they themselves can 'culture-wash' the candidate to fit into the company culture upon joining.

Yes, it is possible and can happen, but not a guarantee.

Also bear in mind, if you do decide to hire the candidate and it really doesn't turn out well, these are the negative issues that will likely arise:

  • The candidate resigns within a short period, so you are back to square one again to hire
  • Wasted time and resources (e.g. efforts to train the candidate, recruitment-related costs like job advertisement or headhunting fees, opportunity costs of rejecting other candidates etc)
  • Decreased team morale from potential conflicts when they work with the candidate

Remember, if even after a thorough assessment process and you are still unsure on the candidate's company culture fit, very likely the candidate is not a fit.

So, proceed with caution if you do decide to hire.

If You Decide To Reject

It is easy to simply say, "Company Culture fit is important and must not compromise, hence reject!"

Admirable, yes. But someone still needs to do the vacant headcount's work.

With the vacant headcount, the team is likely already overworked at this point to cover for this additional headcount's responsibilities which is hindering the overall team's efficiency and productivity.

So if you do decide to reject the candidate, these are some options for you in deciding what to do next:

  • What about the other candidates you interviewed? If they lack the required skills and experience but have better company culture fit, can you train them on the skills and experience gaps? If so, you may want to consider hiring them instead.
  • If there are no suitable candidates externally, you can consider an internal transfer or temporary secondment of staff from other teams. But approach this tactfully with care, as the other teams may be opposed to this as this would mean them 'losing' a team member. You don't want to damage your working relationship with the other teams as well.
  • You can also re-evaluate if the additional headcount is really necessary for your team. Can you streamline your current workflow processes to potentially eliminate the need for this additional headcount to be filled?

Also remember if you do reject the candidate, you need to be very clear on exactly why the candidate is not the right company culture fit to not miss out on a potential top candidate as well.

Concluding Remarks

Whether the candidate is the right company culture fit is an important consideration in determining whether the candidate is the right one for you.

Filling the vacant headcount is important, but filling it with the right candidate is as important, if not more.

Otherwise, you may end up hiring the wrong candidate leading to negative consequences, some even more than just rejecting and leaving the headcount vacant while you continue sourcing for the right candidate.

To learn more on how you can assess company culture fit for your candidate, check out our other write-up post here.


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