Should companies hire on the basis of cultural fit?

05.23.19Baylee Olsen

Cultural fit has been on the frontline of business meetings for the past ten years, and even more so, becoming a critical part of the hiring process in the past five.

But is there a line that’s been crossed? Should companies hire based on the cultural fit? We asked Julie, and here’s here response from Quora.

Here’s a story.

I once worked at a company that decided that the structure of management would be transitioned to be more flat, meaning that the area managers would supervise more restaurants and the managers of each unit would have more power to make decisions.

This was a huge change for a company that had always taught its employees what to think and not how to think.

When the President of the company was questioned about how to help managers make the transition, he responded: “If they don’t get it, we will get rid of them and find someone who does”.

At that point, I finally realized that the company values did not align with my values as a human resources professional.

What is Cultural Fit?

  • Alignment between the values and attitudes of an employee and the core values of a company – It is important that employees understand the company’s values and exhibit them in their work performance.
  • Helps ensure that employees will feel comfortable and be successful in the company’s environment – When you spend all that time and money on hiring the best people, you want them to stay around for a long time. They can have the best credentials but if they do not share the values of the company, they will underperform.
  • Intangible and hard to define but it is important to know what your company’s culture is – The best way to begin to define it is by looking at your company’s Mission, Vision, and Values.

What is not a good use of Cultural Fit?

  • As a code word for discriminatory practices – If what you are really saying is that the person needs to be young and want to party with everyone, having no diversity in your workforce will bring many issues and not just legal ones.
  • As a way to avoid hiring someone who would challenge the status quo –While you don’t want unproductive negative attitudes in your workplace, you do want people who can bring fresh ideas to the organization.
  • To hire people just like the boss – As a smart human resources manager once said to me, we also need to hire for diversity of thought as well as other types of diversity.

How do you determine Cultural Fit during the hiring process?

  • The most important thing is to understand what your company culture is – for example, how do the supervisors operate? Command and Control or Collaborative? How do employees interact with each other? Do you have structured or flexible work schedules? Is working weekends common?
  • Ask the right questions during the interview process – Question should not only focus on technical skills but also how the candidate interacts with others in the organization and what they expect of others.
  • Have the candidate meet some of the other employees that they will be working with – You will want to make sure that the employees understand the purpose of this, for example, they should not use the time to find out how many kids the candidate has and which church they go to.
  • Look for candidates that will add value to your organization even if they are a little bit different – Just because someone is different from your current employees does not mean that they are not a good cultural fit. They may be the right person to add a different style or perspective to your team.

Need help with finding the right employees?

There are recruiting and human resources consulting firms that can help with the recruiting, screening and development of manager interview skills as well as a host of other things that can bring value to your organization.