Hire For Cultural Fit?

Should You Hire for Cultural Fit?

We are the combination of our upbringing, our genetics and our unique internal desires. Did you ever know identical twins, raised in the same house whose personalities were polar opposites? Granted many twins may develop close personalities too.


Families and companies share the fact that they are made up of a variety of people. The difference is that work candidates are selected for a purpose. You can use your intellect in the hiring process to ensure that they are a quality addition to the team.

Unless you work alone, your colleagues can have a major influence on your productivity. People with personalities and values that are compatible usually work well as a team and produce great results. Teams that have even one disruptive person can suffer greatly.

But as a boss or hiring manager, you are a decision maker in the hiring process. It is up to you to choose wisely. A good hiring choice will multiply your team’s productivity. A wrong one could break the team apart.


Alignment is a Good Thing

There is an well-known fact that horses that pull loads as a well-paired and well-trained team are capable of pulling far more than the sum of their individual pulling capacity. Often pulling four times as much. Partnering is a major advantage. You get a good return for your work.

Each person brings their brains and skills, but a cultural fit is more than that. Many hiring managers look only to skills and experience. They forget that you can teach a person a skill, but you can’t change who they are.

In a recent LinkedIn article, Ragini Parmar of Credit Karma says:

“Hiring well for cultural fit has enormous benefit, but requires a lot of thought and work. You’ll need to define your culture and put it on display to candidates honestly to make sure that you’re asking the right questions of people. You’ll also need to ensure your hiring process is set up properly, with the right people involved who can recognize the culture fit you’re looking for.”

If you’re the boss or the hiring manager, you get to build the culture into what you want it to be. So as you build, go ahead and define it clearly. Here are some examples of various company culture mentalities:

  • We want our employees to eat, sleep and drink our brand.
  • We want a place where we work hard and play hard!
  • We want a casual environment where everybody gets their stuff done with excellence!
  • We want a culture where the work stays at the office.


Be honest and upfront during the hiring process. Don’t hide your culture. Honesty in this phase will help reduce turnover.

Another thing to keep in mind if you’re defining culture, is the state of your current team. Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales and founder of Big Idea tells a story in his book, Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables. His team started with one person, him. Then as success built, he had to grow his team. Suddenly the studio had ballooned. Many of them liked the idea of working there, but there was no shared vision, no common values had been stated to all these new people. When Phil decided to take back control and lay down a clear mission statement and vision, many were angry and frustrated. A lot of them left because they didn’t subscribe to the values Phil had initially wanted.

Office politics and national politics, two different things, can each have a major influence on the harmony in the office. Honesty, a culture of no gossip, if clearly and firmly enforced can take care of the former. With the presidential election cycle approaching its peak, there could be a loss of productivity if your team doesn’t know how to either maintain peaceful discourse or avoid it completely. The expectations need to be stated. Rules of civility will be the law, or anarchy will ensue among the cubes.

A lot of these truths are well known. Ask your people. Referrals from your current employees are the best way to ensure a fit. People don’t suggest potential hires that they themselves wouldn’t want to work with. Everyone should agree not to let “crazy” come work in your office.

How do they feel about the work? Do they light up? If this is just another J-O-B for them, you’ll only get minimum effort. If it’s their passion, you won’t be able to hold them back.

In Dave Ramsey’s company, they take the testing a little further. After a great deal of effort checking references and many interviews with different leaders, right before they extend an actual offer comes the final test. They meet the spouse. The mere suggestion ruffles a lot of feathers. What does their spouse have to do with their potential contribution to the team? Dave tells several stories where this step has saved their team a lot of grief and expense. Sometimes the spouse is the crazy one. The spouse might also be more honest about how the candidate actually is. This doesn’t always imply they are ratted out by their own spouse. The prospective employee may be putting on a game face, concealing a great deal of apprehension about a move, or misgivings about the role.


Diversity of Opinions and Point of View is Also Valuable

It isn’t always advantageous to make everyone a carbon-copy. If two people have the same skills, knowledge and opinions, then one of them might be unnecessary to the overall team.

Personality fit is primarily what this is all about. Diversity of opinions and varied collection of experiences make your team’s ideas far richer. The work becomes more polished and refined by vetting it against a broader array of tests.

So test your candidates thoroughly in the process. It is up to you. The candidate may not be able to tell you what aspect of the culture concerns them. Or they may want the job so badly that they are overlooking their apprehension.

Photo credit: star5112 / CC BY-SA 2.0

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