Culture Hiring: The Biased Trend of First Impressions

Welcome to the Age of Trendy Workplaces — a time where every colorful office nook is filled with an equally colorful, Ray Ban-wearing personality. Where hopeful job seekers are judged by both the credentials on their résumés and the contents of their music libraries.

While the results may not always be as drastic as above, there’s no denying the clear shift towards “culture hiring” in American businesses. The practice has some benefits when done correctly, but certain pitfalls can definitely make it difficult for the uninitiated to get noticed.

What Exactly is Culture Hiring, Anyway?

“Culture hiring” was once thought of as the recruiting mechanism of the future. And in theory, it could be. Hiring the whole candidate and not just the skill set is a very holistic approach to team building. The process understands that good teams aren’t built on talent alone, but also on key interpersonal nuances. Its goal is to enhance those features.

When hiring for culture fit, managers seek to accomplish two goals:

  1. Find a competent employee who can handle the job’s responsibilities.
  2. Ensure the hiree is compatible with his or her teammates on both social and problem-solving levels.

The trend has seen an upswing in the 21st century with prominent companies like Google, Pixar and Apple leading the charge. Feature articles spotlighting the internal environments of these high-profile employers quickly prompted others to follow suit.

Dangerous Downsides

However, is this type of recruitment process always beneficial? Not necessarily. While it does offer the company a hiring advantage, when left unchecked, this practice could produce not-so-savory results. As ex-Apple recruiter, Rachel Bitte, noted, there’s a tendency for hiring teams to allow unconscious biases to infiltrate the selection process.

What’s worse, research shows that these biases also tend to give people of privilege an upper hand. Candidates with exciting backgrounds in travel and leisure activities are often picked over those who may not have had the means to pursue hobbies or afford trips.

Recruiting managers have to be hyper-aware of this, and stay objective. Otherwise, businesses run the risk of creating an overtly homogenous work space and creating a barrier of entry for non-conforming job seekers who may possess key skills their team needs.

Putting Your Best Face Forward

Unfortunately, this recruitment trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. This makes it imperative for younger, less-seasoned professionals to get ahead of the curve. If you’re preparing for an interview, here are three ways you can help make the best first impression possible:

  • Rep Your Personal Brand: Remember, culture hiring takes ALL aspects of a candidate into account—not just the content of a résumé. If you want to shine, be sure your interviewers know who you are as a person. Make small talk. Discuss your favorite TV shows. Geek out a little. Seemingly small insights into someone’s personality can go a long way in the deliberation room.
  • Be Invested: If there’s one thing hiring managers care more about than your brand, it’s their brand. After all, they’re trying to build a team that will push their company forward. So, do your homework beforehand. Having an intimate understanding of the business and asking detailed questions will show interviewers you are in for the long haul.
  • Toot Your Own Horn: Young professionals often mention shying away from their own accomplishments in interviews, with most preferring for their résumé to do the talking. While interviewers are more than capable of reading your CV, hearing these highlights from your own mouth can be a game changer. Not only does it give you the chance to loosen up and get some talk time, but it allows you to explain challenges you’ve faced and describe how you’ve overcome them. Trust me, this is a huge hiring asset.

The job world can be tough, and culture hiring definitely makes it tougher. At the end of the day, all you can do is be the best version of you. Represent your values and your skills, and the rest is just lagniappe.

Comments? Questions? Concerns? Shoot me a message at [email protected]!

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