By Bayside Group

Mar 15, 2018

What does 'cultural fit' mean?

When hiring for your business, skills and experience only make up part of what determines an ideal fit. What difference do values, emotional intelligence and other factors you won’t find on paper make to a happy, high performing team?

Put simply, someone who is a good ‘cultural fit’ is an individual who fits in with the company culture, but who also brings additional perspectives into the mix.

While it’s still (and will continue to be) important to employ those with the right practical skills, employers must look beyond the CV and ensure the individual fits into the culture of the workplace – without creating an accidental ‘echo chamber’ of exactly like-minded individuals.

With this in mind, how can you determine cultural fit and how can you prioritise this in your recruitment efforts?


Finding a match without cloning yourself

It’s human nature to like people who remind us of ourselves. In fact, unconscious bias studies show that we are more likely to trust those who share more qualities in common with us. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. While our nature encourages us to ‘hire in our own image’, the results can be catastrophic for teams.

In an interview with Business Insider, Madan Pillutla, Ph.D., a professor of organisational behaviour at London Business, discussed this phenomenon further:

“Research suggests that diversity of backgrounds and perspectives is important to a company’s success.”

“The problem is that if I keep hiring people like myself, very soon I’ll have an organisation of people who think similarly, who act similarly. Yet research suggests that diversity of backgrounds and perspectives is important to a company’s success.”


Who is a good cultural fit?

Older research suggested that establishing your business’ values, then hiring in line with these, could ensure a harmonious team dynamic. While this is true to some degree, it might not be as helpful as researchers once thought.

Cultural fit elements that are helpful to consider in today’s working landscape can be things like working style, commitment to work/life balance or whether or not the individual is passionate about the industry your business works in.

Unhelpful or potentially biased cultural elements can include discriminatory things like race, religion, age, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, but can also include things like attitude, approach to teamwork, problem-solving ability and stakeholder management style.

Understanding what kind of mix will benefit your team can be a challenge, and it’s one of the reasons it can be enlightening to chat to your recruiter about all aspects of your team and business requirements before starting the hiring process.


Determining what makes a good fit 

Psychometric assessments can reveal aspects of a potential hire’s values, beliefs, underlying assumptions and behaviours that you may not pick up on during the interview process. However, the right questions at the interview stage can help raise potential issues in advance.

Try these:

  1. Describe the work environment or culture where you feel productive?
  2. What are the characteristics of the best boss that you’ve had?
  3. What management style brings the best out of you?
  4. What’s your long-term career goal?
  5. Can you tell us about the time where you exhibited (core value)?

Instead of simply talking about achievements, past jobs and qualifications, these types of questions dig deeper into the psyche of the individual. As such, you can learn about what their work culture is and how this aligns with the company’s values and goals, as well as what your team needs to function as a diverse group.

If you want access to the most suitable candidates for a role, identifying cultural fit is imperative – highlighting the value of using an experienced recruiter. To learn more about matching candidates to your business, reach out to us today

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