Hiring Cultural Fits

It seems that “Hiring for cultural fit” is a thing in the workplace now.

“I once hired a woman who really didn’t have the right background or experience for the job, but who I hit it off with during the interview,” says Rebecca Grossman-Cohen, a marketing executive at News Corp. (NWS). “And because we got along so well, I was able to train her easily, and she ended up doing great things for us.”

I’m not a degreed and highly trained human resources professional, but it seems to me that ‘hiring people I like whether they can do the job or not’ is an ancient tradition in the workplace. They’ve just come up with a new buzzword to make hiring your buddy over someone more skilled sound like a wise business strategy.

[Update: 14/01/13] A first hand account of an extreme case of hiring for ‘cultural fit.’ Talked to someone who got to screen applicants for a consulting company, back in the 1990s. One of the managers took her aside and said, “We want people like him,” pointing out one of their consultants. Fit, clean-cut, white guys. No blacks, she was told. No women. No guys with beards, no fat people, no smokers. Just people who looked like that guy.

I visited that place once, and was struck by how everyone looked alike. I literally could not tell most of them apart. They stuck to their standards.

The company doesn’t exist anymore.

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