What Is Culture Fit?

Culture fit looks at how closely someone aligns with an organization’s mission, people and values. Workplace culture can mean many things and has many facets to it. Culture fit is essential for maintaining company culture and team cohesion. A word of caution though — hiring too close to culture fit without adding new dimensions to your culture will ultimately lead to a stagnant and unproductive culture. While maintaining fit you must also add to your culture.

Culture Fit Versus Culture Add

Hiring for culture fit seeks to add more of the same type of employee and is usually beneficial when you need to continue in the same direction and retain team cohesion. Hiring for culture fit seeks more of what you have already proven to be successful to your organization. Hiring for culture add looks to hire people who understand and appreciate your culture, but who bring something different to your workplace. It is their difference that adds positively to a company culture. Hiring for culture add brings unique and valuable skill sets to your organization.

Why Culture Fit Is So Important

Hiring for culture fit is important because the benefits can positively influence the company both as singular components and when combined. We’ll discuss these benefits in greater detail below.

  • Increased employee satisfaction. When your hires are a culture fit, they will feel satisfied in their work. This satisfaction will manifest in more engaged and motivated employees.
  • Higher performance. People who are engaged and motivated tend to outproduce those who are not engaged or motivated. People who are producing more drive the organization’s mission and goals. Because they can see themselves contributing to the company’s overarching aims, they are also more likely to stay.
  • Lower attrition. Top performers are less likely to leave. There are a lot of reasons why people leave jobs, but when you have someone who is a culture fit that is satisfied, engaged, motivated, and performing at a top level, then you have a perfect recipe for building career tenure within your organization.
  • Brand loyalty. Building a team with high employee satisfaction, high performance and low attrition creates an environment that builds reputable and stable brand loyalty. The easiest way to think or brand loyalty is to think about those people you know who seem to embody the organization they work for. Or, think of it this way — those employees that feel like they ARE the company and the company wouldn’t be the same without them.

Criticisms of Hiring for Culture Fit

Some serious criticisms of culture fit is one reason why hiring for culture fit is under fire and newer terms like “hiring for culture addition” are on the rise. We’ll explore these criticisms in greater detail.

  • Bias. There is room for bias when hiring for culture fit. Culture fit can be used as a blanket excuse by hiring managers for rejecting candidates that they simply don’t like or don’t connect with personally. Conversely, culture fit can be used as a blanket reason to hire someone. There can be a mistaken alignment where the Hiring Manager believes that because that candidate aligns with the Hiring Managers personal interests that there is a strong culture fit when there may not actually be a strong culture fit.
  • Decreased innovation. Hiring for culture fit leads to more of the same, and more of the same does not always equal more innovation. In fact, more of the same can mean less innovation.

How To Determine if a Candidate is Right for Your Organization’s Culture

To understand if a candidate is right for your culture, there are a few things that you will want to look at.

Define Your Culture

Many company corporate career sites talk about similar culture traits, like being coachable, competitive, thriving in a fast paced environment and working well under pressure. These things can certainly be part of your company culture, but dig deeper to understand not only what the core areas of your culture are but how you define them and how you determine if someone has those things.

Look For Transferable Skills

When trying to understand if someone is a right fit for your organization’s culture, at first thought the most intuitive way to accomplish this is finding someone who has a strong track record of doing the same job you’re hiring for.

Looking for transferable skills will not only give you a broader pool of people to interview, it will help you find something that will add to your company’s culture.

Try looking at candidates with diverse backgrounds. Try looking at candidates from outside of your industry vertical.

Seek To Be Inclusive of as Many Voices as Possible

The only way you are going to find a candidate who is the right culture fit is to meet with as wide a variety of people as possible. Someone could surprise you. On one hand it’s possible that someone who you get along with really well and shares a background similar to those on your team ends up not being a culture fit. It’s also possible that someone with a different background could surprise you and be a great culture fit.

A great culture fit goes deeper than background, work history and motivators. When you are inclusive of different voices, you will better be able to pinpoint what it is that makes your company culture unique and who will add to it.

Proactively Seek Diversity

Diversity may not always come knocking on your door. Understand that diversity not only includes traits such as race, sex and national origin, it also includes many other things like educational background, geography, industry and much more.