puzzle piecesNew research from peer-reviewed journal American Sociological Review suggests that an employee’s cultural fit at their employer may play a more important role in hiring than any other factor, including job qualifications. Companies are placing more emphasis on hiring employees with similar interests and goals. And while employers are still sure to hire well-qualified candidates, hiring managers and recruiters have admitted to not always hiring the most qualified candidates if they don’t “feel good around” them.

Lauren A. Rivera, the author of the study, voices a major concern raised by the new finding:

“Evaluators are predominately white, Ivy League-educated, upper-middle or upper class men and women who tend to have more stereotypically masculine leisure pursuits and favor extracurricular activities associated with people of their background.”

Therefore, many hiring decisions could involve class bias as candidates are accepted or rejected based not as strongly on relevant qualifications or job experience but on whether a candidate enjoys similar recreational pursuits or personal tastes.

The report suggests that recruiters and hiring managers should consider cultural fit highly when making the decision to hire, but personal preferences should not be allowed to cloud the decision-making process. This not only unfairly excludes otherwise qualified candidates from a job, but also eliminates potential top performers from an employer’s personnel roster.

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in Organizational Culture]