Study shows employers hire the same way they choose friends, romantic partners

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 11 2012 6:30 a.m. MST

Anecdotally, Rivera has noticed similar things in other industries. Some, like engineering companies, may concentrate much more heavily on specific skill sets.

A high-tech industry might prefer a lone wolf for certain jobs.

In other industries, the cultural fit may be more of an issue in interviews.


Knowing that an interviewer may be looking for similarities in personality and commonality in experiences and background can help both employers and job seekers.

Employers, Rivera says, can conduct better interviews if they know this factor of cultural fit is in play. Instead of interviewers giving too much weight to how similar the person's personality is to their own, steps could be taken to increase the importance of job related skills and diversity. For example, the company could withhold the extra-curricular section from the interviewer. This way the interviewer would have to focus more on the qualifications. Standardized tests that measure industry and job-specific skill sets could make the interview process more objective as well.

"Extra-curricular activities are often more exciting to talk about," she says, "than saying, 'Tell me about the financial model you built at your last job.’ ”

Job seekers, for their part, could benefit from researching a company more thoroughly, Rivera says. This research needs to look not just at what the company does and provides to its clients, but also intangible aspects.

"What are they like?" she says. "What do they value?"

Pluses and minuses

The practice of hiring interviewers looking for commonality has its upside and downside. The benefit is new employees will almost automatically share a lot in common with their co-workers and get along well, Rivera says.

"Where it runs amock," she says, "is you miss out on different perspectives. You could miss out on some people who would have been great at the job."

Maybe Lincoln knew what he was doing after all.

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