Don't Hire for Culture Fit

Rob Kish
November 17, 2020

Instead, focus on culture add

What is Culture Fit?

Most companies will talk about culture fit at some point in their hiring process. Anybody that has been involved in the hiring process before, whether on the hiring or hiree side, has heard of this concept before.

Companies that hire for culture fit picture their culture as a box that job candidates must fit into. For those that don’t fit, their resumes are retired to the scrapheap that is the modern applicant tracking system.

Hiring for culture fit fails because before you’ve even started interviewing, you’ve already narrowed down who you’re looking for to somebody similar enough to you that you’d like to grab a beer with them after work.

Hiring for culture fit fails because hiring people that fit your culture inhibits growth or changes to the culture. The more people you cram into your culture box, the less room there is for team members to be themselves, think freely, and contribute to their full potential.

When somebody asks the question, “does this candidate fit our culture?” they are asking the wrong question.

Company Culture is Dynamic

It’s time to stop viewing company culture as a box that people should fit into, rather it is a dynamic entity that changes and grows with your company. This slight perspective shift allows you to take the shackles off your company’s culture.

When you add a new team member, both the condition and the culture change. Thus the right question to ask when adding team members is, “how will this person change the dynamics at play and the culture that we currently have?”

You want to determine what a job candidate will add to your company culture.

When you recognize that culture changes, you can start to look for people that will move your culture in the right direction.

Why does this matter?

Building a successful culture takes more than a ping pong table and bean bag chairs in the office. It takes people working together pursuing the same goals. When teams are made up of a diverse set of people, it raises the ceiling of an organization.

There has been plenty of work done that highlights the benefit of building diverse teams, widely cited studies from McKinsey, and the University of Michigan back this up. However, as many have experienced, it’s hard work.

By no means is ditching the concept of culture fit all that needs to be done to build diverse teams, but it is a necessary first step that strong teams and companies must take.