Why you should not hire for cultural fit

Why you should not hire for cultural fit

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Hiring new candidates is a huge responsibility. During a job interview, recruiters may feel inclined to hire people that perfectly fit the company culture, and are on the same page of the future team. ‘Cultural fit’ is a term used to explain how companies are identifying the right candidates in this very competitive marketplace.

Does hiring for cultural fit mean hiring like-minded people that are going to get along and work well together? Or does it mean hiring a group of people who are really pushing one another to grow and thrive but who don’t necessarily have the same perspective?

Why going for culture fit may not be your best option

Of course, most job candidates see culture fit as a top consideration when choosing a company to apply for.
When companies are hiring, most of the time they go for culture fit candidates, because it means hiring people who fit their potential role, who would get along with their colleagues easily and share their company’s sense of purpose and values. It seems an easier (and safe) choice. Usually, colleagues who share a similar approach to work can make a happy and productive team. Being on the same page is a good perspective, but on the other hand, it may lead to stillness and stagnation of ideas.

The philosophy of hiring for culture fit doesn’t acknowledge how a different point of view can raise the productivity  of an entire team. A study from Columbia Business School reports that diverse teams make better decisions, deliver greater financial returns and change how individuals think.  So, maybe it is time to hire diverse people, people that would create different kind of interactions.

What is a diverse team

When we speak of diversity, we don’t mean skin color or country of origin. In this context, we mean different styles in solving problems, different communication styles and ways to interact.
Creating a diverse team means looking for people that can do something different than what the company already does. It can contribute with different ideas, original plans, creative solutions. 

It’s important to stop hiring for cultural fit and instead hire for cultural contribution, for what people can bring to the company.
It’s important to have things like complementary skill sets and different perspectives, realities and experiences. It may not be the safest choice at the beginning, but it is where original things come from.

Uniqueness is the key

The real reason to hire a candidate should not be the culture match, but his/her own uniqueness. Recruiters should ask What makes you unique? during the interview, and reward the most interesting and original answer.

Change is a constant we must embrace, so we shouldn’t look at culture as something that remains static, but as something where employees can grow. A culture grows stronger when everyone is able to bring their whole self to an organisation, their own diverse personality and their distinctiveness.
However, misusing culture fit has consequences. Jobseekers, especially millennials, seek a diverse workplace with a thriving culture, a place where they can stand out and make a difference.

Culture is always a hot topic in HR, and it is always going through transformations. There are always recruiters wondering how to attract the best talents. Maybe, a new strategy should be tried in the hiring process. All the time companies talk about culture fit, which talents better suit a job description. But it is time to change perspective, and try bold plans. It is not time to talk about culture fit. It is time to talk about culture shake-up.

2 Replies to “Why you should not hire for cultural fit”

  1. I’m ever so sorry but I must completely disagree with you. I believe you can hire for culture fit and still have a team bringing “different ideas, original plans and creative solutions”. I have worked for companies who don’t put such an emphasis on culture fit and the problem is you end up with a group of people who work entirely differently, communicate differently, prioritise differently and therefore simply can not work together cohesively. There’s a difference between hiring robots, all of whom have the same mindset, and hiring people who share the same values as your company. I think your article implies that if a company focuses on recruiting for culture fit that they will end up with people with identical mindsets, which simply isn’t true! You need to be able to interact, socialise and identify with your team members in order to work effectively – and if you do that in opposite ways then all it causes is friction and makes the work environment uncomfortable for everyone.

    1. Hello Kathryn, thanks for your comment and telling us your opinion. What we think is that there is not right or wrong in this topic: every company finds its internal balance and its own truth. Some companies hire by the mean of “unfit”: hiring those who you may do not like at the beginning, the antithesis. Sometimes you need those who think differently, act differently and live differently because they bring new value to your work environment. Of course, a “culture fit” team can bring original plans and creative solutions as well, and one solution does not exclude the other, but we are suggesting to try to think outside the box and be open-minded to new solutions. There are some HR that hire people with a cutter: we are giving the advice to do the opposite, and hire those whom you would never think of. Creative a varied team can be an opportunity for even greater ideas. But, as previously said, there is no right or wrong, and every company finds out its own perfect balance. We appreciate your comment and make treasure of your point of view. Thanks, the Team

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