‘Cultural fit’ is a term that is very common these days, especially among human resource professionals. For many it’s a key trait to look for when recruiting for a vacant position as a wrong hire can be extremely costly for an organisation. On the flip side, hiring a candidate that fits the organisation’s culture not only prevents the before mentioned costs, it increases job satisfaction (which increases retention) and improves performance. So how do we make sure we’re recruiting for a cultural fit?
Before we answer that questions it’s important to define ‘cultural fit’ not as hiring people that all look the same or think the same or have the same background – that’s simply a lack of diversity. Earlier this year, Erika Andersen wrote an article (Is ‘Cultural Fit’ Just A New Way To Discriminate?) for Forbes. She describes, most accurately, cultural fit as a person having similar core values as the core values to which an organization identify themselves with.
Katie Bouton in her HR article gives a perfect example: “For example, if collaboration is a key organizational value, people who have a genuine, authentic belief in the value of collaborative work will be a stronger culture fit than those who are more comfortable as individual contributors. This doesn’t mean that only people who come from one particular background or have one particular set of experiences are collaborative. A savvy hiring manager knows that a deep-rooted belief in collaboration could just as easily be found in a candidate with a corporate background as a candidate who has worked in the nonprofit sector or a candidate who has spent most of her career in the military.”
It becomes clear why cultural fit is so important; it allows different strengths and skill sets to be leveraged (while potentially negating weaknesses).
Asking the Right Questions
Key areas to consider when trying to determine if a candidate would be a good fit:
- Look at the organisations in which they’ve worked – how successful were they? What was the culture of that organisation like? “Past behaviour predicts future behaviour,” “If someone has been successful in similar culture they will likely be successful in your organisation.”
- Understand what the employee is expected to achieve. “Doing is day-to-day,” “What do you need this person to achieve?”
- Ensure that a candidate will bring some diversity to the company in terms of skills and background. “If recruiters are hiring people just like them, they tend to find that innovation and change are slower to implement as no one is coming in with new ideas or outlooks,” he said.
- Remember that that you can’t teach people fit, but you can teach them knowledge, experience and skills. “Often employers bring in right skills but don’t get the right fit, which results in no value being added to the organisation.”
By incorporating a focus on cultural fit in your recruiting activities, you’ll find that new hires will settle in quicker, excel in their roles, drive growth and help you reach your business objectives faster.