Social media as part of background checking (Part 2)

This is part two in my four part series on social media and background checking.

In the first post we looked at laying a foundation for the discussion and about how social media allows you access to a unique view on a candidate’s character.

Now another method of assessing character is through a process HR calls cultural fit.

Cultural Fit
Cultural Fit
To start let’s look at the DDI Australia Research Report on Recruiting for Culture Fit. DDI use the terms motivational fit from two distinct perspectives; job and organisation. Let me quote their report:

Job Fit Motivation refers to the degree to which the activities and responsibilities of a particular job are consistent with the activities and responsibilities that an individual finds personally satisfying. In short will somebody want to do the job?

Organisation Fit Motivation is defined as an individual’s compatibility with an organisation’s values and mode of operation. While organisational fit covers a range of organisational attributes the most common and frequently cited element centres on the congruence between individual and organisational values. This is often referred to as Culture Fit.

The DDI study found that 90% of respondents rated recruiting as very important to essential, they also reference several other studies that have found the same thing. However only 36% said they always recruiter for cultural and it went down from there.

Why is cultural fit so important today? Well a related article from Human Resources when the report was released had Bruce Watt, Managing Director from DDI, provide us some further information.

While an individual’s knowledge and skills may appear to be more important on the surface, the reality is that current knowledge and skill sets quickly become redundant. This is why culture is so important. While cultural change is not uncommon, most organisational cultures are enduring and therefore provide an anchor for individuals and organisations.

I would say recruiters who do not help their clients recruit for cultural fit have the risk of not having them as client much longer. (Ok agency recruiters you can have a go at me for saying that in the comments below 🙂 .)

So it is clear people want to do this, but HOW are HR departments assessing for cultural fit?

The DDI report also looked at this.

The top four methods for assessing cultural fit were:

  • Behavioural interview questions specifically targeting values (91%)
  • Panel interviews (61%)
  • Reference checking against values (58.3%)
  • Informal meetings with team members and colleagues (48.6%)

What might surprise some of my agency readers other methods included social situations.

On a final note 90% of HR professionals surveyed said that while assessing cultural fit was difficult it still should be included in the process.

Two of the top four methods of assessing cultural fit, reference checking against values and informal meetings with team members and colleagues, benefit from using social media information as part of the process. While we have not yet solved the objectivity side of things what candidates place online provides a unique insight into potential fit of them and the organisational values. Pictures on Flickr from their local cricket team games shows an candidate who has a balanced life, yes they might include some from the end of year party but they are meaningless to the assessment. Video on YouTube from the candidate’s work on the local primary school’s fête shows a commitment to community values.

A key point here, as put by Aaron Dodd on Twitter:

Crux of the matter is the testing of the info as to its accuracy and relevance.

It is this assessment of accuracy and relevance coupled with objectivity is critical to the assessment.

In part three I want to look at some of the potential legal issues the final post will try and bring all this together.

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