Cultural Fit: what is it and why is it important

Cultural fit is a hot topic these days. More and more people throughout different levels of business have been discussing it lately. Candidates look for it, entrepreneurs and managers require it and recruiters search for it. So let’s take a look at what it is and hopefully shed some light on the subject.

What is Cultural Fit

You would call cultural fit to the alignment of values, beliefs and behaviors between an organization and a candidate. This is something you look for when you interview people in order to minimize the impact of hiring a new person into your company.

A lot of recruiters tend to exclude the cultural fit evaluation from the recruitment process without recognizing that it might have a negative impact.

Cultural Fit main benefits 

When you evaluate candidates having cultural fit in mind there are 3 main benefits:

  1. Better results. Naturally, if there is a match between what the company and the new employee believes, you can expect a healthier relationship, higher motivation and better performance.  
  2. More efficiency. When you hire someone that fits like a glove, relationships and trust are built faster and the usual learning curve shortens. That sounds like a good ROI, doesn’t it? 
  3. Covers up some flaws in the recruitment process. Having cultural fit in mind during the process, if you misjudge a candidate’s technical skills, at least you get someone with the right mindset to get to the expected level faster. We don’t always get it right, and that’s okay.

How to evaluate Cultural Fit

Now that we know the main benefits, how do you assess it? Here’s a few tips that will help you evaluate the cultural fit more effectively:

Start with the basics

Know the values, mission and vision of the company you are working for. There’s no other way around it. Besides that, try to always have a conversation with the hiring manager to understand his/her expectations for the role in question. Ideally, you will want to work side by side with them throughout the whole process. 

Situational questions

Let’s say the company you work for as a recruiter values Teamwork greatly. On an interview setting, present the candidate with a situation where, during a team meeting, an idea that he/she strongly disagrees is being planned to be implemented. Ask the candidate how would he/she react to it and how would they go about it. The outcome might help you understand right away if there’s alignment or not with your core beliefs.

These types of questions are great to access a candidate’s values. Use them.

Keep it in mind throughout the whole process

Ask questions like the one from the example above during the whole recruitment process. Start with the first contact and have different people asking different questions related to cultural fitting until the end of the process. Invite other HR personnel, managers and future teammates to be involved and have that mindset too. Assessing people’s values is hard, so the more people you have asking these questions throughout the whole process, the more accurate will be the evaluation at the end.

Don’t forget the human side

Technology is helping immensely the HR process, there’s no denying it. But, when evaluating people, there’s a human side that you can’t underestimate. An experienced recruiter that knows how to conduct an interview, asks the right questions and makes a candidate feel comfortable is not easily replaceable. Therefore, gain that experience, build your skillset to be the most trustworthy asset when hiring for cultural fit.

Be proactive

The cultural fit evaluation is not exclusive of the actual recruitment process. Attracting the right people should start way before you receive an application. Employer branding plays a factor here to make sure you target the right audience even before reaching out to people. Do you have a career’s page? Do your company state their values and mission somewhere? How is that communicated to the outside world? These are important questions to answer in order to position yourself in front of the audience you want to attract.

One last thing

Like most things when you are dealing with people, nothing is black or white. Thus, there are nuances worth exploring within this subject.

In one handwe just learned it is very important to keep cultural fit in mind when you are evaluating a candidate that wants to join your organization. But on the other hand, shouldn’t you also get different people into the mix? Having different ways of thinking helps to grow and sometimes gives a ‘breath of fresh air’ to organizations. Try to mix it up when possible and identify in which positions could this approach be applied. That’s a fine balance to achieve, but worth taking a shot at. 

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