Employers and employees in Singapore are rating cultural fit as the most important criteria when it comes to hiring or joining a company — making it even more important than the salary, says recruiting expert Hays.

The right chemistry

According to Hays, candidates have been turning down jobs where they didn’t think there was a cultural link between them and the company, be it an entrepreneurial attitude, the proper work-life balance, creativity or how they communicate with others.

Employers, meanwhile, are considering not only a candidate’s technical skills but also his cultural and team fit.

Hays has seen many cases where an employer will train a candidate in the necessary technical skills if he is  the right cultural fit for a business.

These candidates usually go on to enjoy long-term tenure with the employer, says the recruiting expert.

There are countless cases where a potential candidate may look impressive on his resumé and excel in the required technical skills, but ultimately fails to fit in with the team or align with the organisation’s way of doing business, its values and its belief system.

In these cases, the candidate’s actual on-the-job behaviour is inconsistent with the values and expectations of the team he is working in and the organisation as a whole. He is not able to make the best possible contribution and this can be costly to the organisation.

By considering not only a candidate’s technical skills but also his cultural and team fit, an organisation is far more likely to get recruitment right the first time.

The hiring manager will avoid a mismatch between the candidate and the organisation.

Tips for employers

According to Hays, in most cases, employers are assessing cultural fit by a series of behavioural interview questions.

Behavioural interviews allow the hiring manager to see how a candidate approaches various work situations and whether his behaviour matches the way the organisation conducts business.

The hiring manager can then see if the candidate’s attitudes and behaviours are shared by his organisation’s business. 

Other successful strategies to help employers assess potential cultural fit are role plays — which can be used for suitable vacancies such as customer service or sales — trial periods or even an invitation to a team dinner or function.

Tips for candidates

To prepare for an interview, candidates should research the organisation to gain an understanding of its values and way of doing business.

Then think about examples in your working history that illustrate how your way of operating matches your potential employer’s.

Use examples that demonstrate the fit between your own values and attitudes and those of the organisation.

While your technical skills and experience are, of course, important to get your foot in the door, Hays says it is your ability to sell your alignment to the company’s values that will demonstrate your cultural fit in an interview.