When good hires go bad: London start-up prioritises culture fit in recruitment

Beyond personality, conscientiousness and integrity tests, ThriveMap measures how likely new hires are to succeed or fail based on practical insights about how a team works.

The cost of a failed hire can be up to 60 per cent of an employee’s annual salary, and of these failures, it’s 9 times more likely because the candidates failed to fit in with the team, than because of technical competence.

According to London start-up TalentRocket, companies typically measure culture fit subjectively with “gut feel” screening, which not only can land them with the wrong hire, but could lead to discrimination and ‘hiring in your own image’.

TalentRocket recently beta tested its software application ThriveMap with HSBC, AOL, Belron International and TeeSpring to revamp the hiring process by predicting culture fit between individuals and teams using classic ‘data-driven decision-making’.

With ThriveMap, companies map out their team’s ideal work environments, and compare that to candidates’. Beyond personality, conscientiousness and integrity tests, ThriveMap measures how likely new hires are to succeed or fail based on practical insights about how a team works. This is done via a survey before the interview stage.

As an industry standards, many financial institutions rely on psychometric profiling to go around the culture fit issue, including personality, integrity and conscientiousness tests to predict job performance. Similarly, many technology start-ups and digital agencies run “meet the team” style unstructured interviews for this, which runs the risk of confusing sociability with compatibility.

Founders, Chris Platts and Mark Hla, see ThriveMap as a natural progression from the employer branding platform TalentRocket. The software app’s beta launch was based on conversations with over 350 HR experts, combined with personal experience of over a decade in recruitment, and statistical verification.

“Rather than trusting existing theory we started from a position of understanding what data managers need to make better decisions. We were able to see that the best teams are full of different personalities, what they are not full of is people who prefer to work in completely different ways,” TalentRocket co-founder and CEO, Platts said.

“ThriveMap started in TalentRocket as a tool to help candidates find their perfect work environment. When we were showing companies what TalentRocket could do for their talent acquisition and they’d see the ThriveMap data on the type of culture candidates wanted to work in and started asking loads of questions. We knew we were onto something big.”

“Companies who are using ThriveMap for recruiting already have found that the insights have enabled them to predict team fit and avoid making costly mis-hires.”

Unlike personality tests that group people into fixed categories, ThriveMap shows where candidates sit on a scale of work preferences. By comparing candidates with the team’s preferences, the app shares visual, numeric and textual feedback on relative fit, and the specific areas where a candidate’s fit is strongest and weakest.

A recent survey from job site CV-Library found that 76.2 per cent of recruiters find keeping potential candidates ‘on the bench’ useful in case a new hire doesn’t work out, which suggests that a high churn may not be as big a concern for recruiters or even candidates.

For CV-Library’s founder and MD, Lee Biggins, recruiters are increasingly using benching as part of their strategy, which is not entirely surprising.  “Many recruitment professionals are under increased pressure to fill positions quickly, and having a pool of talented job hunters to revisit can help to reduce the time and cost of finding the right candidate in the future. This can also work in the favour of job hunters who may then be put forward for another, more relevant, position at a later date, or have a backup plan in case a new role doesn’t work out. Most interestingly, our data has revealed that this trend is also becoming increasingly popular amongst job hunters, though very few would leave a recruiter on the back burner for more than two weeks.”

Though some may view this negatively, it can be mutually beneficial for each party, Biggins explained, opening up the possibility for new opportunities and an increased talent pool. “That said it is clear that only a small percentage of candidates are currently getting jobs as a result of being benched.”

Despite Biggins’ optimism for the industry in having a back-up hires waiting in the wings, the cost of a bad hire can be crippling for businesses in their growth phase. As companies turn their attention to growth and profitability, the implications of a bad hire can be far more costly than first realised. The expected drop in productivity is the biggest problem associated with making the wrong recruitment decision, as well as the compounding effect on staff morale seeing colleagues come and go.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.