Instead of looking just at job-related skills and experience when deciding who to hire, culture-focused companies such as IKEA “expanded their selection criteria to include cultural fit,” assessing applicants’ personalities and values, according to new research.

IKEA’s standard job questionnaire downplays skills, experience or academic credentials, focusing instead on applicants’ values and beliefs.

Image courtesy of Flickr user 5thLuna.

Many successful companies, such as IKEA, consider corporate culture part of their competitive edge.

For those companies, that means hiring in a different way.

Culture-focused companies “make deliberate efforts to integrate their stated core values and business principles into talent management processes such as hiring methods, leadership development activities, performance management systems, and compensation and benefits programs” says the article “Six Principles of Effective Global Talent Management,” in the current issue of MIT Sloan Management Review.

Instead of looking just at job-related skills and experience when deciding who to hire, culture-focused companies “expanded their selection criteria to include cultural fit,” assessing applicants’ personalities and values. The assumption is that “skills are easier to develop than personality traits, attitudes and values,” says the article, which is based on a multiyear collaborative research project.

Case in point: IKEA, the Sweden-based furniture retailer:

  • IKEA’s standard job questionnaire downplays skills, experience or academic credentials, says the article.
  • The questionnaire asks about job applicants’ values and beliefs.
  • Comments about values and beliefs become the basis for screening, interviewing, and training and development.
  • When IKEA employees apply internally for new jobs or leadership positions, “the main focus is once again on values in an effort to ensure consistency.”

“The range of talent management issues facing multinational companies today is extremely broad,” write the authors Günter K. Stahl, Ingmar Björkman, Elaine Farndale, Shad S. Morris, Jaap Paauwe, Philip Stiles, Jonathan Trevor and Patrick Wright.

Their research highlights the six key principles successful companies adhere to for effective global talent management. “Cultural embeddedness” like what IKEA demonstrates in its hiring practices is one of those principles. The other five are: alignment with strategy; internal consistency; management involvement; a balance of global and local needs; and employer branding through differentiation.

For more about IKEA, see “The Experimental Roots of Revolutionary Vision” from the MIT SMR archives. It’s a 2006 profile of the history of the company by Jérôme Barthélemy.

1 Comment On: IKEA: Hiring on Values As Well as Skills

  • IT job postings ask for the wrong thing | April 5, 2012

    [...] Sloan Management Review article “IKEA: Hiring on Values As Well as Skills”. This article discusses how IKEA’s standard job questionnaire downplays skills, experience or [...]

Add a comment