Today’s Hiring Practices in Corporate America
“The best way I could describe it,” one member of a law firm’s hiring committee confessed to a New York Times* journalist, “is like if you were on a date. You kind of know when there’s a match”. There is a lesser talked about but culturally acceptable practice in white-collar industries to hire candidates considered personal culture fits — not necessarily fit by performance history and skill set. This translates into asking candidates about their hobbies and personal biographies to establish fit. Shared alma mater and college football allegiances might easily mean the difference between hiring and not hiring an equally qualified candidate. One manager at a consulting firm quoted the New York Times “when it’s done right, work is play.”
This trend in corporate hiring practices, notably in law and investment banking firms, may very well translate into professional productivity and teamwork at times. People get along with people they relate to. But it is easy to mistake personal fit for skill. Fit has gone rogue.
But relying more on personal chemistry than quantitative analysis in the hiring process exposes companies, ironically including law firms, to legal liability. Hiring for personal fit contributes to discriminatory hiring and managerial practices, and reduced diversity. More importantly, it exposes a vital percentage of the workforce to potential harassment, exclusion, and work dissatisfaction. This is ultimately not beneficial to employer or employee.
Intuitively picking a romantic match is tough enough. Hiring managers are better off leaving certain intuitive “interviewing” practices to the daters out there. (Or at the very least, not admitting similarity between the two to an investigative New York Times journalist.)