Creating and supporting an environment in which developers want to work is serious business for employers. Not only do you want to ensure that your company culture enables your current developers to get things done, but it can also be a crucial recruiting tool when you need to ramp up your team. It’s understandable to pass on a candidate if he or she isn’t capable of adapting to things like your staff’s work or communication styles. However, there are a few subtle developer hiring mistakes that employers make when recruiting for culture fit that are unfair to the candidate and can lead to some dicey hiring decisions. To help you avoid passing on an outstanding developer because you're "hiring for culture fit," here are a few things to keep in mind.
It would be unfair of me to say that your technical team shouldn’t have quirks that make them a unique group of developers to work with. In fact, developers you interview want to know what it’s like to be part of the team. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of being too heavy-handed in only recruiting developers who enjoy similar things. While discussing your team’s favorite beers or video games is totally acceptable outside of a technical interview, a developer’s level of interest in these types of things should never be used as an indicator of culture fit. If any of your recruitment materials discourage candidates who don’t like these things from applying, it’s time to take an editor’s pen to your job listings and emails and delete those bullet points.
I’ve seen my fair share of technical job listings and recruitment emails, and as admirable as it is when a company uses these materials to showcase what makes them unique, it’s easy to take this way too far. Sure, it’s nice to know that an employer offers free snacks and regularly scheduled beer bashes, but be careful not leave out details about the projects that developer candidates want to know they’ll get to work on. As appealing as these benefits sound, don’t lose sight of the fact that one of the most satisfying things for a developer is shipping code and seeing real customers use what they’ve built. If your job listings and recruitment emails focus too much on your company culture, developers will look elsewhere for their next opportunity.
There’s a lot to be said for working with people you get along with. And while it might sound ideal for all of your developers to be best friends, the truth is that focusing your developer hiring strategy on candidates who are similar to one another can be troublesome down the road. Sure, developers with near identical interests are more likely to spend time with one another outside of work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be more productive as a group. It especially doesn't mean your should create a culture fit assessment to find only these types of people.
Katie Bouton of Harvard Business Review says that people who share a company’s fundamental values will likely come from different backgrounds. She adds, “The values and attributes that make up an organizational culture can and should be reflected in a richly diverse workforce.”