Having the technical competencies necessary to perform a job function seems to be a pretty universally accepted requirement in order to be considered a viable candidate. However, it is perhaps equally important what the personality and attitude are in the package-deal that is a new hire. With more and more companies adopting behavioral or corporate culture-based interviews it seems the trend is to hire based on soft skills as well. The only question is, what makes a person a good fit for a group?

If the firm has established a strong culture it is certainly beneficial for a new hire to already exhibit many of the traits the organization values. Aside from reducing the costs associated with training and development it will allow the new hire to be effective much more quickly. This is because the style of interaction he or she brings to the organization will be similar to what is expected and accepted. While it is important to have cultural considerations in mind in order to ensure a smooth transition period into the department we need to be careful because this is an area where you can have too much of a good thing.

There is an important distinction that must be made between corporate culture and group dynamics and tendencies. Corporate culture is a high level operational philosophy, but each department is likely to have a slightly different dynamic and some customized norms they follow. Making sure a person is a good group fit is a common requirement, but I submit that this is where hiring managers need to be careful. Although I agree that hiring somebody into a group who is drastically different can prove to be destructive, hiring too many like-minded people can be crippling to an organization as well.

There is a need for constructive conflict to occur within work groups in order for the most creative and dynamic solutions to be generated. If the employees in a department are either unquestioning followers of the manager, or habitually agree with one another it is unlikely they will be truly optimizing the solutions. This is because there is nobody there to question the status quo, poke holes in an argument, play devil's advocate, or provide a unique point of view to consider. In other words, hiring too many like-minded people into a group can effectively put a limiter on the productivity and effectiveness of their work.

So while we still need to be conscious of the need to ensure a good culture fit overall, letting managers continually hire more of the same can prove to be a recipe for disaster.

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Comment by Hassan Rizwan on November 19, 2009 at 5:02am
Great thoought Gino. I really like the last part of the blog. I personally prefer hiring 2 or more in a group of 8 or 10. We also play a trick while hiring the new candidates by planting an employee of ours in the discussion as a candidate who acts as a devil's advocate and pushes the canddiates to respond to the criticism and disagreements.

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