Some tips for working with external recruitment partners

I’ve been asked this question on numerous occasions, both by peers and recruitment partners. While there are many differing views on this, many of which are dependent on the industry you’re in and the type of roles you’re hiring for, I thought I’ll share some of my thoughts on how I go about navigating this.

The role of external recruitment partners (agencies)

First and foremost, as a Talent Acquisition (TA) professional for your company, your bread and butter task at hand is to acquire the best fit talent for the role you’re looking to hire for. There are a variety of sourcing channels you can leverage, and the use of external recruitment partners would be one of the many.

A lot of TA professionals resist the use of such external recruitment partners as they come with a much higher cost relative to the other recruitment channels. Coupled with the likelihood that it is an internal KPI to reduce the company’s agency spend making it a tough decision when we are deciding if we should take a role out to an external recruitment partner.

So, what’s the value in engaging with these external recruitment partners? What’s the role they play in a company’s Talent Acquisition function setup?

The answer to the question is actually very simple and straight forward. The role of the external recruitment partners is to augment your TA function’s capability and capacity.

So, what do you mean by that?

Understanding your current setup

One of the very first step in establishing an efficient Talent Acquisition function for your organization is to understand current setup.

I look it with the following parameters:

Capacity and Load tolerance of the team. Every team setup has its own limitation to how much requisitions it can handle. I like to keep the team operation at 80% of its full capacity (optimum capacity), leaving some time for projects and team development. This also gives me some buffer when the spike in hiring comes in.

The load tolerance refers to the additional load that the team can take on top of the full capacity. For me, this is usually an additional 20%.

For example, if you’ve got 10 recruiters and each have a capacity of 100 requisitions a year:

  • Total capacity = 1000 requisitions
  • Optimum capacity = 800 requisitions
  • Load tolerance = 20% (1200 requisitions)

Turnaround time/ Time to fill (TTF). This is a love hate stats for many TA professional. I’m not a big fan of using this to measure performance as there is no clear benefit if you close the position faster. Yes, every position ideally should be filled yesterday, but that also creates a paradox that as a TA professional, you also need time to source, access and acquire the best fit talent for the role.

For me, TTF is use as a control stats to manage SLA. When you’re running a TA team, you need to take a macro approach to accessing how much your team can deliver (as described in the above paragraph on capacity), and how fast they can turn it around.

I’m not too hang up over the actual number of days as we measure TTF differently. Some of us stop the count when the candidate signs the offer, and some only stop the count when the candidate starts.

What’s most important is the consistency of the measure. Measure it the same way as you always had, and take a snapshot of what that average is over a period where the team is operating at optimum level (not too high load or too low a load).

This will establish the baseline.

With this baseline, you can start contracting with your hiring manager on how long it would take to turn the position around based on current load that the team is carrying.

Domain expertise and geographic coverage. I guess this is self-explanatory. Everyone in the team has their own strengths and weaknesses, and we need to be realistic about the team’s limitation when taking on roles that outside the comfort zone. Especially so when there is a very short runway to deliver.

While the above parameters are sufficient for managing the day to day operations in a TA function, you will also need to factor in projects and other out of the norm hiring.

For example:

  • New entity/ Site setup
  • Critical/ Time sensitive hire
  • Confidential searches
  • Project ramp up

Such projects or initiatives often disrupt the operational efficiency of team as it creates a spike in the load on the team.

So, with a good understanding of your team’s limitation, it becomes easier to take a decision if you should take engage the help of an external recruitment partner.

Getting to the real work

Now that you’ve decided to take the hiring external, checked that you’ve got the budget to use an external recruitment partner, what are some of the things that you need to look out for?

Selecting the right partner(s)

There are so many ways to do this, and so many ways to get it wrong. For me, I look for partners that can plug the gaps in my team. There are essentially three things I look out for. Domain (and geographic) expertise, process and the opportunity to work out a win-win arrangement.

I guess domain, geographic expertise and process is quite self-explanatory. Let me elaborate more about the “win-win” arrangement below in the pricing section.

I’ve omitted the “relationship” factor deliberately. I do think that it is important to maintain a strong relationship with the existing partners that’s been giving good support. Another benefit is the familiarity of their setup. Sometimes it’s very hard to differentiate real ability from sales talk. However, I would try to keep it as objective as possible when it comes to selecting the right partners to go with.

So, how many partners should you appoint? I tend to go with one partner first and move on to adding not more than two more if the first partner fails to deliver. I am rather careful with having too many agencies working on the same role, as they could potentially reach out to the same candidates. Not only will this cause a lot of confusion and frustration, but also make the search process a nightmare to manage.

I’ll discuss more about the rationale of limiting the number of partners in the pricing section below.

Working out what type of services you need

The services offered are generally categorised into the contingent and retained searches. The key difference would be they payment schedule. Although all retained searches would/ should come with a more comprehensive search management methodology, I’ve also seen some of the contingent searches providing as good a search management methodology as the retained ones.

There’ve also been a variety of other search services such as industry mapping which can be useful when you want to do an assessment of the available talent in the market. This is very helpful when you are looking to define the role and wants to get a gauge of the available talents in the market.

Normally, I would sit down with the partner with the best domain/ geographic knowledge for the role that I’m hiring for to discuss and tailor the approach.

Getting the pricing right

This should be easy, right? The cheaper the better? Apparently not.

I tend to be quite particular with this. One of the things that I look out for is the partner’s ability to hold their pricing. There is usually a standard range of pricing in the different countries. If the consultants working on my role are really that good, they would have no problems charge standard or even premium rates. So, if an agency readily drops their pricing below market rates, this is a signal for me that I might not be getting the services of their best resource. You pay for what you get.

I am also rather mindful about over negotiating the pricing. Not that I’m generous with my partners. You need to first understand how the consultants are being incentivised for working on your job. Especially when you’re engaging them on a contingent search. Any good consultant would have more than one jobs on hand. They need to turn in a revenue and have a monthly sales quota to hit. So, if they can make more money on the other job, how would you think they would prioritise their work?

By the same token, I try to keep the number of agencies working on the same job to as little as possible. Think about it, if there are 5 agencies working on the same job, the chances of them closing it, and bringing in the revenue automatically falls to 20%. Once again, a good and smart consultant would de-prioritise such jobs.

Many TA professionals would think that they’ve gotten a great deal when they walk away from the negotiating table with an obscenely low price and have a ton of agencies working on the role and sending them CVs.

That for me is the worst possible outcome. First, with the number of agencies that’s working on the role, I am less confident that they are representing my company correctly. Secondly, with the low rates and low chances of closing the role, agencies wouldn’t invest too much resources into sourcing and screening the candidates. I’ll end up having to screen all the CVs and do all the heavy lifting for them.

So, for me, getting the pricing right is critical to a successful win-win partnership.

Managing the search

Getting the search out is the easy part. Managing the search is like managing any other projects. It is important to set out the milestones and deliverables.

For me, I tend to view my external recruitment partners as part of my TA team. Thus, setting up regular review on the progress with updates is essential. It is also good to have the hiring manager sitting in these reviews. This will also help to minimise the number of updates as you don’t have run these updates separately.


Closure could mean two things. Either you made your hire, or not. Whatever the outcome, it’s always good to do closure and a review of what went well or not.

As part of closure, it is always a good practice to do some housekeeping. A lot of work had gone into the sourcing and assessment of the candidates. All this are valuable insights and intel that would come in handy when you do your next search.

Also, do take note of the agreement that you’ve got in place as agencies would normally have a duration for ownership of the candidates. So, always document the agreement you’ve got against the candidate that they’ve presented and don’t just rely on the current agreement you’ve got in place as that might change over time.

After sales

Candidates usually have a special relationship with the recruiter that places him/ her. Always maintain an open line channel with the external search partner and leverage on that relationship they’ve got with your new hire to gather feedbacks on how they’re doing in their new job.

Personally, I’ve gotten some very useful feedbacks which resulted in a more positive experience for the new hire. So, make use of that “service” as much as possible!

Longer term relationship

Building and managing a long-term relationship with your external recruitment partners is essential to any TA function. You can forecast your hiring requirements, but more often than not, you will need to look at scaling up or down your internal capacity.

I tend to be a little more conservative with adding permanent recruiting resources especially when there is huge fluctuation in requisition load. External recruitment partners (and contractors) provides me with a viable alternative to scale my hiring capacity.

There are a lot more to this such as measuring the performance of the different agencies and managing your preferred supplier list etc.

I hope this article had provided you with some useful insights. Please share your thoughts and comments with me, or perhaps an idea for the next article!

Thanks and happy weekend!

Eric Wong

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.


#BeBoldForChange – Happy International Women’s Day 2017

Gender equality is a topic that’s close to heart for me.

Being a HR practitioner, we are often in the front line, directly contributing to the creation of a creating a fair, diverse and inclusive work environment.

Being a father to my daughter, I do hope that my baby girl will enter the working world without the bias of gender and shine like she meant to be.

Today’s International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day is the day where we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is also a call to action for us to accelerate gender parity.

Some of you may remember my previous blog on my letter to my little girl pledging my support for the HeForShe movement. I would like to take this opportunity to renew my commitments and “challenge bias and inequality”! #BeBoldForChange

I will challenge bias and inequality:

  • query all-male speaking panels
  • pull people up on exclusive language
  • challenge stereotypes
  • call it out when women are excluded
  • monitor the gender pay gap
  • point out bias and highlight alternatives
  • call for diverse candidate shortlists
  • embrace inclusive leadership
  • redefine the status quo

You can click here to join me in pledging your commitment to “challenge bias and inequality” (Click here to join me in my commitment). (I’m #29,546 to take action!)

Let’s see how many commitments I can gather from my little call to action!

While there is a lot of coverage International Women’s Day, and I guess we’ve all became quite aware of what it is. I think it is still useful to remind ourselves on what it stands for, and consciously act in ways that makes our world a fairer one.

Finally, I hope in my little voice today, I would like to ask each of you to #BeBoldForChange and commit to ending bias and inequality.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Eric Wong

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

Flexible office space – A new way to work!

For the many of you who had been following my blogs, you would had noticed that I haven’t blogged about flexible working for quite some time.

Yes, I’m still a huge fan of having flexible work arrangements, and no, it’s not gone out of style.

It’s just that there’s only so much that you can talk about when it comes to flexible work arrangements without me sounding like a broken recorder! Right?

Well, that was until I learned about “GorillaSpace” from a friend, Ginny that’s taken the brave road to entrepreneurship to set up this amazing company.

While I listened to her describe the business model to me passionately, I was clicking away on the site and was amazed that I could set myself up on a hotdesk at an office location somewhere in town for as low as SGD30 a day. What’s more, I get a full range of business amenities at my disposal. I’m sure it will cost a little bit more, but the feeling of empowerment to manage my work location flexibly is refreshing.

The idea of work from anywhere is not new. It’s becoming a common sight that you see these remote workers making themselves comfortable in a café or practically anywhere with a desk and power point.

This is also becoming a norm and an inbuilt ability of our younger generation of workforce as they’ve probably developed the ability as students huddling in groups, camping out at fast food joints after classes and often, glued to their devices (mostly working on their project work as I was told).

Personally, I’ve tried working from offsite locations such as cafés, libraries, and even at a pub. Trust me, the pub was surprisingly quiet and peaceful at 2pm in the afternoon!

However, I’m sure many of you would agree with me that sometimes you need a proper office or desk to do some serious work. And home may not be that solution. From the noisy kids to angry spouse, fluffy beds to life threatening housework, the list goes on.

For those of us with a permanent office, there’s no issues. All we need to do is to show up at work! 🙂

What happens when you don’t have a permanent office? Or, if it’s going to cost you your blood pressure just to beat the traffic and get into the office at the other side of your world. I don’t know about you, but everyone I spoke to hates travelling to work.

This is where having the option to go into an office that is conveniently available just when you need it becomes somewhat pleasurable. Think about AirBnB for offices. It’s like having the ability to go online, pick out an office to your liking, pay for it, and just show up.

I think all of you will agree with me that the workforce and the workplace of tomorrow is going to be drastically different. I do believe that this is going to drive the demand for new and flexible ways for employees to engage with their work.

We also see a higher level of work life integration in our daily schedule. As such I do foresee that even companies with physical offices may need to relook at creating satellite sites for employees to check in for their work. And these locations will be conveniently located in location that allows them to go on with their daily chore.

An interesting example would be for an employee with a young kid to be able to drop the kid off at school, check into an offsite office at a nearby location to the school. Do some work and pick up the kid after that. I’m sure many of us are doing this already. The technology and infrastructure today does support such work arrangements making it a reality for many. Coupled with rising cost and availability (or lack of) of childcare in many developed cities, this is becoming a need and a norm very quickly. Companies are constantly kept on their toes to innovate and keep up, or risk losing their highly talented workforce to someone else who’s willing to make the change.

I do feel that sites such as “GorillaSpace” does serve a growing need and more of such sites will continue to mushroom.

I am excited with the future and am glad that I’m seeing the evolution in my lifetime. Personally, I hope more companies will start looking at such new offerings and rethink the way they structure work.

As a HR practitioner, I’ve always believed that structure determines behavior. It is important to continue to evolve the organization to keep up with times and continue to stay engaged with the employees.

Oh yes, I do need to state my disclaimer that I am not in any ways related or have any holdings to the company Gorilla Property Solutions Pte. Ltd. Opinions and observations are my own and not influenced by any commercial benefits.

And to Ginny, I do wish her the best in her venture!


Eric Wong

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

True colours are beautiful like a rainbow

Dear Little Issac,

It may be a small thing that many of us adult took for granted, but you’ve asked Daddy a very significant question yesterday. I would like you to remember the lessons and learnings from that very simple question.

We were at the playground and you’ve asked Daddy, “why does the little boy have blue eyes?”. That was probably one of the first time that you’ve looked at another kid and noticed the difference in how they looked from you.

Daddy tried to have that conversation with you when you were around 4 years old, and I’m sure you don’t remember what your response was. You responded with a question “What was the difference?”! To you as a 4 year old kid, you didn’t see any difference between you and the other kids.

Daddy was so proud of you when you said that. It was an answer that I think many adults like me would struggle to come to. And, my wish at that point in time was for you to never lose that perception of the world.

We don’t live in Utopia, and the world is a much more complex place. Judgement, biasness, and perception will kick in as you grow up and you will start to see the world in a different way.

Daddy wants you to know that the world is a very big place, and I don’t think we can truly comprehend everything that goes on around us. I want you first to be proud of who you are and form your own identity. Your heritage and where we come from is a large part of who we are, and I would like you to recognize that.

At the same time, I would also like you to learn to appreciate the differences in people, to accept the diversity of the world around you.

Your world will be a different one from that of Daddy’s. We will also see things differently, and that’s ok. If there’s one thing that you absolutely need to know to navigate this confusing place, it is to keep being the curious boy you’ve always been. Continue to learn about everything. Even if you think you’ve known it already, keep asking more questions and keep exploring. You never know what you’ll find, and I’m sure you will continue to be amazed.

You will grow up to be a big boy soon, and Daddy may not be the best role model for everything. What’s more, you should never expect that Daddy will be around forever to explore this beautiful world with you. You will find new companions, friends, and people to learn from.

Exercise judgement and be brave to stand up for what you believe in. The world is not only a confusing place; it is also a crazy place. Not everyone who is seemingly successful, or in position of power and leadership is right. They do make mistake at times, and many times they may not share the same beliefs as you. Do not be afraid even if your voice seems too soft to make a difference. Even if it is a small gesture, it may mean the world to that one person you’ve stood up for.

Finally, be true to yourself, learn to accept others for who they are, see the beauty in people, culture and everything else for what they are. Diversity is like colours in a rainbow, it’s beautiful when they come together.

Love, Daddy

For the rest of the readers who may think that I’ve gone cuckoo with all these blogs of letters to my kids, I assure you that I’ve not. (I hope!)

I do read my letters to my kids and one day hope they know where to find them.

I spend a considerable amount of time talking with them, and in fact learning a great deal from them and their amazing mind in the process. As I explore some of the modern-day challenges and issues on topics such as diversity and inclusion, I felt that a lot of these issues are caused by our own perceptions and bias opinions over the years.

When left “untreated”, this biasness can manifest into some serious discrimination issues. This problem can be magnified when a bias individual is put into a position of power or leadership. With authority, serious damages can occur.

Personally, I felt that to stamp out discrimination, it must come from within. For me, I find that doing self-reflection like this worked best for me. I learn to see things through a child like perspective, and that often make things a lot clearer.

Discrimination happens all the time and it’s all around us. I’m sure many of us would have stories to share. Some have extensive media coverage and we all can see the problem. While it saddens me to hear the stories, I don’t think there is a silver bullet solution. I don’t have a solution to solve for world peace, but I will continue advocating for diversity and inclusion ways that I can. As much as possible, to raise sensible kids that will contribute to the solution and not the problem.

For those who’s still sober, fascinated and/or awake after reading this much, I thank you and welcome your comments. Do do your little bit to make this world a beautiful place in ways that you can.


Eric Wong

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

Good Job Workforce Singapore!

The terms “retrenchment”, “redundancy” and “layoffs” are so common these days that I’m sure everyone of us would know someone that’s been affected at some point in their career.

Being in the recruitment profession, I guess we hear a lot more of these from candidates and friends.

In one of my recent meetings with some my counterparts in the industry, I came to hear of this wonderful scheme by Workforce Singapore to support PMETs that’s been recently retrenched or has been out of job for 6 months or more.

It’s called the Career Support Programme (CSP).

I was impressed with how the programme’s ability to deliver assistance in a way that creates a more sustainable outcome, as compared to just giving handouts to those who’s lost their jobs.

Basically, the incentives are targeted at companies to encourage them to hire PMET candidates that’s been retrenched or out of job for more than 6 months. Companies can reimburse the salaries of up to SGD2,800 a month depending on which category their new hire comes from.

The mechanics of it is genius! Administering the aid at the company level help create the demand, which in turn improves the marketability of the candidates. What’s more, smaller companies (SMEs) are now able to get access to qualified candidates at a lower cost, which will benefit them in the longer run.

I don’t know when this program was first introduced. I believe it was rolled out in mid Q4 2016, and I’ve only heard about it now.

This is an amazing program which I think companies should try take advantage of. As such, I think it’s only right that I do a bit an “advertisement” for Workforce Singapore by providing you this link to the website:

For those readers who’s been recently retrenched, and or working hard to find employment for the last 6 months, here’s a link for you to find out more:

I would also recommend that you the link and information with your future employers that you’re interviewing with. It’s a good program and I hope that this would help you in your job search!

Good luck and all the best.

Ps. This program is only applicable for Singaporeans and Companies operating in Singapore, however I think this is an excellent policy and blog worthy to share with all of you!

Also, please excuse/ pardon me for using the words “program” and “programme” interchangeably. I’ve reached a point where my I cannot differentiate between US and UK standards anymore! 🙂

Happy Weekend!

Eric Wong

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

I am #HeForShe – For my baby girl

Dear Baby Audrey,

Although you are too young to understand this, and the significance of gender equality, I want you to know that this is a very important issue and this is something that daddy feels very strongly about.

Daddy is a recruiter and in my line of work, my decision and judgement directly impacts many peoples’ opportunity in getting a job that they’ve applied for. While this is part of life, I want you to know that the world that I want for you is one that values merits and ability over gender, race or age.

The world is never a fair place, but that shouldn’t stop us from making it so.

Daddy attended a talk by Auntie Selena from Schneider Electric today, and she’s shared with us what Schneider is doing in the areas of Diversity and Inclusion.

Auntie Selena introduced the #HeForShe campaign initiated by UN Women which daddy found to be very meaningful. It may be a small gesture to pledge my support, but every little bit counts. Daddy’s # 1421299 to make the HeForShe commitment and together we’re going to change the world.

According to The World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Report 2014, gender equality in the workplace won’t be achieved until 2095. That will be too long a wait and you will be well over 70 years old by 2095.

While you’re fortunate to be living in a time where there’s a strong awareness for the idea of gender equality, we need to continue to work on this until a time where this becomes a reality.

I enjoyed going through the #HeForShe campaign website as it contains a lot of useful information and friendly reminders that we could often overlook. One of daddy’s favourite which I am committed to doing at work is “Open the Door” – When hiring, insist on seeing diverse candidates for every position. Then be aware of how names and other identifying information can produce a subtle bias in hiring decisions.”

This is daddy’s letter to you baby Audrey, and I think it will be many years before you can read this. One day, Daddy will read this to you during your bedtime. Meanwhile, I would like to share this letter on Daddy’s blog in hope that this would encourage more people to take the pledge, and more importantly commit in action to gender equality.

Ps. And one more thing baby Audrey, #HeForShe doesn’t mean that you can bully your brother or your friends in school. Be nice to them!

Love, Daddy

For those readers who’s decided to pledge their commitment to #HeForShe, do drop a comment on this blog. Together, we can make a difference!

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

Don’t let “Culture Fit” stop Diversity!

Commitment to create a diverse environment, equal opportunity employer, fair consideration without Regard to race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, disability or age. This is a familiar statement that we often see on job descriptions assuring candidates that the company is an equal opportunity employer.

However, is that really the case?

We all know that in a hiring process, the job application and candidates screening phase is just the start of the process. There could be many different stages of interviews following that.

Every single hiring manager wants to make the best hire possible. There isn’t any hiring out there who’s told me that they want the second best candidate, and we should pass on the best person for the job. In fact, sometimes it can be so hard to find the perfect candidate that we end up not being able to hire anyone. I believe we refer to this as the “purple squirrel” situation!

There are many things we look at when we evaluate a candidate for the job. If you do a quick search online, you’ll be able to find a lot of resources out there, from assessment forms to personality tests.

Different companies adopt a different approach. In its essence, as an employer, you’ve only got 2 things you need to focus on during a job interview.

  1. Can the candidate do the job?
  2. Provide the candidate with sufficient information to make a decision.

And yes, in assessing the candidate’s ability to perform the job, we often need to look at his experience, training and even potential to develop the skills.

Often, we try to look at a candidate’s “fit” into the organization. Even in conferences, there’ve been talks by speakers talking about hiring for the right “fit”. Often, this refers to a “culture fit”.

Here’s the test. For the many of us who’s been with different organizations. When we sit in an interview as an employer, reflect on the moments you’ve got the question from your candidates asking you about your company’s culture.

How many times have you used those “similar” and “generic” adjectives to describe the company you’re with.

Wait a minute! Are we saying that all these companies that we’ve been with have the same culture? Maybe. Or, do we really struggle to put our finger down on an unique set of adjectives that best describe the culture of the organization you’re in.

Let’s not be overly harsh with ourselves here. Culture is an interesting thing. I don’t claim to be an expert in this department, but I can assure you, you can try your very best to describe it, to define it, you will still find that the way you’ve describe your organization’s culture will be different from how your colleagues would had put it.

Some would say, you would have to “feel” it for yourself to understand it.

Now, if we cannot clearly define our organization’s culture, how would we be able to quantify a person’s fit into this culture? How should we measure this?

Is this a gut feel or is there a way to quantify suitability?

As human as we are, we gravitate towards things that are familiar or similar. We take comfort in making the safe decision by relying on our experience. I guess that’s how the term “comfort zone” came about.

By doing so, we form biasness and perception subconsciously.

The question is, would “culture fit” be a valid reason to reject a candidate?

How would you know if you yourself is a good fit for the organization in the first place, and by which standards is the candidate assessed on?

In a recent conference which I was a panelist to a discussion on hiring and selection, I raised this very point of view to a room full of about 100+ participants. There was a bit of a harsh silence, but I received a couple of comments during break time that it was an interesting point of view which they’ve overlooked.

While there is no right wrong to this argument, and this could probably spark off a larger debate, I would urge everyone who’s part of a hiring process to take a step back and relook at your assessment of your candidates. Remember, the first step to reducing biasness is to have the awareness.

I hope this article would had help make a difference in improving diversity, inclusion, and in reducing discrimination in the world of recruitment.

Have a fantastic weekend!


Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.