What Is Cultural Fit? Why Is It Important for Companies?

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Cultural Fit

In job interviews, hiring managers are hearing more and more frequently from applicants that they are looking for a “cultural fit”. High salaries, responsibility, and promotional opportunities are no longer the be-all-and-end-all to making a job attractive. Much more important to employees is wellbeing, enjoyment of work, and the alignment of the company culture with their personal values. That’s why management is forced to rethink – if they haven’t already done so.

Equal partnership-based cooperation, open collaboration, interest in the employees’ concerns and successes, and a solution-oriented approach are just some of the many factors that make up a good cultural fit. However, it applies both ways. The employer can also expect that applicants are culturally a “match.”

Gone are the days when companies used claims such as "in 30 years" to position themselves more successfully on the market. Instead, organizations are currently dealing with building a good company culture that speaks for themselves. The following questions are asked and answered:

 

  1. What contribution do we make to society as a company? What is our mission?
  2. What are the personality traits that make us a company?
  3. How can our values be described? What do we want to stand for?

The result is an image that resembles a description of a person. For instance, a modern IT company would describe itself as a relaxed, cool, progressive organization with a solution-oriented mindset. Nowadays, pointing the finger at employees to find responsible for issues is not a common practice anymore. Instead, staff members join the forces and work as a team to solve the problem.

 

Why are these seemingly human values so important to a company? Precisely because organizations are human. Qualified specialists choose their employer according to the same criteria they would apply when picking a new friend. Both employee's and employer's values and ideas must match culturally. That is the core of the Cultural Fit.

Cultural Fit

The search for suitable candidates grows gradually in difficulty according to the number of qualifications required. Furthermore, highly qualified workers choose their employer carefully and are aware of negotiating a good salary anywhere. It's nothing to write home about. Then, how can a company attract skilled workers?

 

Special financial benefits such as bonuses or pension schemes can be satisfying, but they are also common nowadays. The Cultural Fit, on the other hand, is unique. You won't find it everywhere. That is the reason why it is so important in recruiting. The hiring process is the first contact potential employees establish with the company. Throughout its touchpoints, the candidates evaluate the company culture and mission and make sure they reflect their values. If there is no match, candidates probably won't apply, no matter how senior the position is.

The Cultural Fit is not a one-liner in a job description that changes everything overnight. Hiring according to the Cultural Fit is a practice that has to be implemented with strategic workshops and corporate training programs by managers. Accordingly, the sourcing process will be quicker and more efficient.

 

Nevertheless, if the company is at the forefront of self-discovery, it should reflect in its job advertisements. Therefore, the job description should depict how things work within the company. For instance, companies that promote a friendly working environment can address potential applicants informally. It could be a potential selection filter according to the Cultural Fit.

 

Recruiters can also use creative job advertisements to attract suitable candidates. For instance, they can include a typical working day and all the tasks the employee carries out. In addition, they can contain a description of the initial training and milestones to reach in the first, third, or sixth month.

 

Moreover, a job application could include an initial challenging test assignment or an entertaining video. Such elements should be fun and allow both sides to get an insight into each other's values. If applicants' response is positive, it is the first confirmation of a Cultural Fit. Furthermore, it can be an opportunity for the company to get a first impression of who the applicants are, how they think and work, and to quickly select applicants to meet in a personal interview.

 

Team pictures are another tool that promotes company culture, and that can attract potential employees. They are essential to give applicants an insight into everyday team life and the first introduction of colleagues they will potentially work with. Photos should be selected appropriately to the values to convey. For instance, if the value is placed on cohesion, a picture should show the team on their last team-building excursion.

 

The same applies to "About Us" landing page containing a company's information and its guidelines, as well as the application form. Simplifying the submission of resumes results in a more pleasant candidate experience and increase the number of applicants.

Company Culture

Every person is different. There will never be a 100% match between an employee's values and those of the company. Neither does it have to. These slight differences in employees' beliefs bring diversity within the team and lead it towards developing creative problem-solution skills, communication skills, and other transversal skills. In general, it is proven that diverse staff achieves better results than homogeneous one.

 

What matters is that the employees' and employer's core values match. These values include the following:

 

  • Developing an open and transparent communication
  • Promoting an inclusive company culture
  • Adopting an error management culture
  • Employing a solution-oriented approach
  • Providing a good leadership role model
  • Offering opportunities for professional growth
  • Encouraging a good life-work balance

Meeting employees' demands for improving the working environment is vital for establishing a good and long-term relationship between an employer and their employees. If they don't have the same beliefs, the relationship won't work in the long run.

 

When some staff members and the team leader have opposite thoughts on the working methods, it turns out to be a disruptive influence for an entire staff. But if they share a common ground, minor personal differences can even turn into advantage.

 

For instance, if the team agreed on adopting an error management culture, all members must discuss what they learned and which is the right solution to the issue or similar issues that may arise in the future. A diverse team that still shares common ground brings on the table more creative solutions. Adopting different resolution approaches still results in a coherent overall picture.

Cultural Fit as a Productivity Boost

Nowadays, when selecting a new employee, many managers first assess whether they are a cultural fit and thereafter their qualifications and experience. Nonetheless, qualifications and references are undoubtedly essential. In addition, a candidate’s previous experience could be necessary to carry out successfully the tasks required by their future role. For instance, it could be in-depth industry knowledge or a successfully completed project that resembles the company’s challenges.

However, having a similar value system is crucial for engaging in day-to-day business operations and, thus, for the team’s success. There are several reasons for this. For instance, team members who think alike have more transparent communication and better share information. Accordingly, having efficient communication fosters team cohesion and boosts employee motivation to work together to achieve common objectives.

Promoting an elbow mentality and competitiveness in the working environment damages the team spirit in the long run and doesn’t deliver results. Therefore, to provide good achievements, the team should consist of qualified cultural-fit employees who complement each other. When employees’ skills are mutually appreciated and valued, the team spirit is high. That means that employees work cohesively and thus more efficiently to attain common goals.

In other words, to develop a challenging working environment, team members have to get along with each other on a daily basis, communicate openly, and support each other in carrying out their daily tasks.

 

HR managers sometimes have a hard time assessing the person during a job interview. They no longer only have to look for qualifications and suitability for an open position but also have to evaluate a new employee according to the Cultural Fit. To do so, managers should consider the guidelines of the company culture and strategically build a hiring process according to them.

 

Once the hiring process is set up according to a Cultural Fit, the right questions will arise by themselves. Managers could use these or similar questions to determine whether the employee and the candidate are suitable matches.

 

  • What do you know about our company, and why do you want to work with us?
  • What skills and strengths do you bring for the role?
  • What would be your ideal working day in your new role?
  • Which skills would you like to acquire in the next five years?
  • What was the biggest challenge you faced professionally? How did you overcome it?
  • What has been your most significant professional achievement, and how do you obtain it?
  • How do you deal with mistakes? What do you do to prevent them from happening again?
  • What are your weak and strong points?
  • Do you work best alone or on a team? What members would your ideal team consist of?

Interview questions should be open-ended. An interview shouldn't consist of nor "Yes/No" questions neither "Right/Wrong" answers. Instead, HR managers should examine candidates' responses without prejudice and focus on understanding whose statements get closer to the company's values.

 

In addition, HR managers shouldn't be intimidating and should allow candidates to express themselves fully. Although, they should pay attention to the so-called tricky interview questions, such as the well-known description of the candidate's greatest weakness. The candidates should be put at ease to feel encouraged and answer honestly.

 

Even if the candidate doesn't get hired, they will gain a positive experience of the candidate journey and consider applying for another position in the future.


To eventually hire the best skilled and cultural-fit candidate, HR managers should consider offering a probationary period to a new hire. This trial period will show their working methods, whether they fit in the team and if they have the necessary working skills. Furthermore, last but not least, a probationary period will confirm whether they are a cultural fit.

 

 

Website-Preview-TM-Infographic

An infographic on how to find, retain and promote talent according to a Cultural fit can be found on this page.

In addition, your current employees can help you find the best cultural-fit candidates. After all, they know best who fits the corporate culture. Learn how to incorporate a digital employee referral program into your recruiting mix with the Firstbird demo.

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