Employers Rank Organizational Fit Most Important in Evaluating Potential New Hires

All-new data from corporate recruiters shed light on what performance traits and abilities set candidates apart.

Jun 30, 2016

Employment Outlook

Business school graduate interviews for position

In the 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey, GMAC Research Services asked employers to identify the skills and traits they feel are most important to consider when evaluating recent business school graduates to hire. Among 12 traits that survey respondents were asked to rank in order of importance, a candidate’s ability to fit within an organizational culture was ranked highest overall across all world regions.

What does it mean to fit within an organizational culture?

Organizational culture is a set of shared values that influence how people interact and work with one another in the workplace.

Organizational fit is a judgment of how well an individual’s work style and work-related values sync with the overall culture and norms of an organization. For example, if a recruiter says a candidate is a good organizational fit for a particular company, they are saying that the candidate has a personal set of work values that align well with the established norms of the company’s organizational culture.

Why is organizational fit important?

From the candidate’s perspective, identifying companies that are a good organizational fit is important because the likelihood of having a happy and productive work life is much greater at an organization that shares the same work-related core values. Jenn Lim, GMAC Annual Conference keynote speaker and CEO of Delivering Happiness, has said that the main driver of employee happiness in the workplace is fit with the organizational culture, and that happy employees are more productive and improve their company’s bottom line. Employees with strong organizational fit identify more closely with the organization, which deepens their commitment to their work and increases the likelihood that they will feel engaged and motivated to “go the extra mile.”

From the employer perspective, the best way to ensure that employees sync with the organizational culture is simply to hire the right people to begin with, which is why organizational fit is such an important aspect of the hiring process. Companies want new hires who naturally fall into the rhythm of the organization and successfully operate within the existing model of how things get done. Screening job candidates for organizational fit ensures that new hires will have a smooth transition into their new role and shorter time-to-productivity—the amount of time required to get a new hire up to speed and producing at the level of established employees.  Most important, employees with good organizational fit stick around longer, which shields companies from the high cost of turnover

How can candidates learn about a company’s organizational culture?

There are a variety of ways business school students can investigate the organizational cultures of companies of interest. While a company’s mission statement can give candidates a sense of the organization’s overarching goals and philosophies, it’s important to remember that a significant portion of what makes up a company’s organizational culture is unwritten. This means that candidates need a networking strategy to uncover insights about companies’ cultures that can help them determine which companies are a good match. 

  • Current and past employees – Candidates should work their business school’s alumni network and see if there are any alumni that currently or previously worked at companies of interest. Many of them are willing to provide their honest take on organizational culture, and may be able to provide insight into how the company uses organizational fit in the hiring process. 
  • On-campus events or information sessions – How a company pitches itself to business school students often provides insight into their company culture. Take the time to introduce yourself to the company representatives to start cultivating a relationship.
  • Career services professionals – The staff of business school career services offices may also have insights into companies’ organizational cultures based on their interactions with recruiters and knowledge of which past graduates have had success at different companies. 
  • The interview – Bring specific questions about the company culture with you to the interview. This will show the recruiter that you are just as interested in finding a good fit as they are.

Companies that recruit a large number of candidates out of business school often have information about their company culture available online. For example, recruiting giants KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, and EY all have official videos on their YouTube channels that discuss organizational culture. 

To learn more about how employers identify talent, the level of demand for business school talent, and more, download the 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report