In response to an earlier article, “Is It Fitting to Use "FIT" In Recruiting?” one person commented about “fit” criteria (if any) in selecting leaders for public office. It made sense that in considering the legitimacy of “fit”, we should explore the process for election to political office. It seems appropriate, as free elections are key to our democratic processes and should set an example.
When you think of it, the election of a President (or equivalent) is like the biggest panel interview you could imagine. Millions of us sitting around a table with our interview notes and the Presidential candidate sitting at the end. What selection criteria will we use? Unlike a conventional interview, everyone at the table may have a different version of criteria. The job is clear – running the country – but the way it will be done is the issue. Related experience is important, also leadership qualities and excellent interpersonal and presentation skills. Each panel member (voter) will have an opinion about the suitability of the candidates, but the main focus will be on change. Even supporters of the current President are probably looking for changes if he/she is re-elected. It is all about change and things getting better and feeling confident about promises made.
The major candidates would have been pre-qualified by their political party, but not necessarily satisfying all party supporters. Everyone at the table may have a different perspective when asking the candidate, “If you had the druthers what would you do about [whatever pet peeve]”? As in a regular job interview, the Presidential candidate would try to formulate his/her best answers to gain the support of as many as possible of the selection committee (us). The process to this point is somewhat similar to a normal selection process. Now, back to our subject, the cultural fit.
Voters are not required to attest that their selection vote will be based only on bona fide presidential office requirements. Many citizens may place great emphasis on cultural “fit”. As stakeholders in the nation, voters often explore whether the values of the candidate are consistent with their own. It is not illegal for a voter to vote against a candidate based on personal history, gender, sexual preference, religious beliefs or race – or simply because they do not like the look of the person.
The cultural fit of the President, may be of primary important to many voters. It may have little to do with job requirements (except anticipated leadership bias) but personal “fit” issues can be major and are often featured in political advertising and discussions and can strongly influence campaign direction. In effect, political parties are urging voters, directly or indirectly, to consider cultural factors that would not be legally permissible as selection criteria in regular day-to-day job recruiting.
So, if cultural fit (possibly in conflict with human rights) can be a major consideration in election to political office, should that be seen as reasonable justification for cultural “fit” being used quite liberally by organizations as part of their recruiting processes?
Are there good reasons for allowing more latitude in electing to high political office than hiring for a regular job? Obviously, it is complicated to try and control the reasoning of each voter. If voting was online, however, it would be possible to have each voter click on a declaration of objectivity in casting his/her vote. I am sure it would not be popular. It may result in people staying away and that could be a problem. If voting is confidential, it may also result in considerable cheating.
What do you think? What do you think we should think when we are casting out vote – or recruiting?
Thank you very much for your interest,
Bio: Ian Welsh CHRP
Ian’s style of HR is being resourceful in a human way. His HR experience spans more than 25 years at an executive level within major organizations where his emphasis was on HR solutions – respecting theory but knowing how to apply it in real life situations and recognizing holistic needs. As an Independent HR Practitioner, based in Toronto, Ian continues to focus on “reality HR” with strong communications overtones. He shares his experiences and thoughts on his Toolbox for HR blog “The Search for Mutual Success” and interactively through online discussion.
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