Moving On From Experience & Degrees: A Fit-Based Approach To Hiring

Recruitment - 13 Aug 2021 by Yehezkiel Faoma Taslim

We often joke about how we don’t even use 5% of what we learned at school or university in our everyday jobs. It’s only a joke, but there is some truth to it, isn’t there?

In fact, more and more companies no longer require a degree when hiring talents: Google, Apple, and IBM are just some of them.

We can see the same thing going on with experience. In LinkedIn, there are 21% more job posts that look for specific skills, instead of qualifications.

This trend of skills-based and fit-based hiring is getting traction all around us. Instead of obsessing over education and experience, companies want to see what candidates can actually do.

In short, companies are starting to focus on the future potential of candidates, not only their past history. To see that, recruiters usually measure two things:

  • job fit: actual skills to complete tasks successfully
  • culture fit: whether they’re a good fit for the company culture

So why should we move towards a (job & culture) fit-based approach in hiring, and how can we do so?

Why hire based on job & culture fit?

Experience is not a good predictor of job success. Looking at someone’s past experience is only 13% effective in predicting candidate performance.

The reason why recruiters look at experience and education is to gauge if a candidate has the skills and capabilities to perform well in their new job.

Instead of taking the roundabout way, it’s more accurate to just directly measure their skills.

Assessments measuring job fit can tell you if a candidate has the skills and potential to perform in their tasks, much better than making estimates based on their degree or previous jobs.

But skills aren't everything. You also need culture fit to succeed in a job.

Many HR professionals mistake culture fit with the gut feeling you get when interviewing a candidate, such as, “He’s kind of quiet, he might not be a good fit,” or “She has tattoos, that might mean she doesn’t follow orders.”

That is not culture fit. That is bias, and it can even happen unconsciously. When you discriminate against candidates by misusing “culture fit”, the consequences can range from risking a toxic hire to legal action.

True culture fit is not about hiring people who are similar. In fact, a homogenous team is not a good thing because you lack diversity in thought and behavior.

Culture fit is about looking for talent who believes in your organization’s values, who can align with your mission. For example, if your organizational culture encourages competition among employees, naturally you should look for someone who is competitive.

Culture fit should never be measured with first impressions. Like with skills, it should be done with proper tests backed by science, such as psychometric assessments.

CVs and interviews alone aren’t enough in predicting candidate success. How exactly can we implement a fit-based approach in our recruitment practices?

Job Fit-Based Approach: Remove unnecessary barriers in job posts

When hiring, you’re actually looking for skills and not just degrees or qualifications. Reflecting this in your job posts will lower unnecessary barriers for skilled candidates.

Instead of requiring “X years of experience in marketing,” you could instead say you’re looking for “communication skills and creativity” with experience preferred.

There is little point in requiring experience when we know it’s a poor indicator of future job performance, and especially when we can simply measure skills directly with the right assessments.

The predictive validity of different selection methods in hiring, from Frank Schmidt, 2013. The selection methods are multi-measure test, cognitive ability test, structured interview, integrity test, work sample test, emotional intelligence test, personality test, and job experience. Multi-measure test has the highest predictive validity coefficient at 0.71.

This also opens up an opportunity for candidates with transferable skills. A candidate who has worked in a different field may already have the skills needed for the job you’re looking for, even if they don’t have the same exact experience.

By focusing on a fit-based approach, you can enrich your candidate pool with skilled talents from a diversity of backgrounds without unnecessary gatekeeping.

Culture Fit-Based Approach: Define culture objectively

How do we prevent “culture fit” from being misunderstood with bias and subjectivity? The solution is rather simple: we measure culture fit objectively, with data.

It may sound strange at first, trying to measure something as abstract as culture. But the fact is that culture can be quantified.

(You can think of culture as the “personality” of a company. If psychometric tests can measure a candidate’s personality, they too can measure a company’s culture.)

Though every company culture is unique, there are measurable elements and dimensions: leadership style, how talents conduct themselves, their aims, and such. This data is what is later analyzed against your candidates’ personality and drive in order to discover their culture fit.

With scientifically proven assessments like in Dreamtalent, you can objectively measure culture and culture fit without fear of bias.

Into the future of fit-based hiring

Keep in mind that a fit-based approach to hiring doesn’t mean replacing CVs or interviews. Instead, you should apply psychometric assessments to measure job fit and culture fit as a complement to CVs, interviews, and other observation, in order to measure candidate fit as accurately as possible.

However, this means focusing more on the candidate’s actual skills and potential, instead of just education or experience.

This enables you to source talent from a larger pool, reaching candidates from different backgrounds yet with the skills that you need — people with actual skills, not just a degree.

With psychometric assessments like Dreamtalent to enable a job fit and culture fit approach, you can build your workforce with people who are skilled in their work, motivated in what they do, and are committed to your organization’s values, resulting in high-performing talents.