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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 corporate culture with their personal values. That’s why management is forced to rethink – if they haven’t already done so.

Equal partnership-based cooperations, interest in the worries and successes of employees, and solution-oriented, open cooperation 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 "for 30 years" to position themselves. Entire working groups deal with the identification of a company. The following questions are asked and answered: What contribution do we make to society as a company? What is our mission? What are the personality traits that make us a company? 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 example, a modern IT company would describe itself as relaxed, cool, progressive and with a solution-oriented mindset. Instead of pointing the finger at those responsible and looking for someone to blame, they work as a team to solve the problem. Why are these seemingly human values so important to a company? Precisely because they are human. Qualified specialists also choose their employer based on salary, but also increasingly like they would pick a new friend. Values and ideas must match culturally. That is the centre of the cultural fit.
Cultural Fit
The search for the right candidate becomes more and more difficult, the more qualified they have to be. Good professionals can choose their employer and know that they can negotiate a good salary anywhere. It's nothing to write home about. Special financial benefits such as bonuses or pension schemes are also nice, but are also common nowadays. The cultural fit, on the other hand, is unique. You won't find it everywhere. Anyone who has ever had the experience that something doesn't quite fit will appreciate it all the more. That is precisely why it is so important in recruiting. Recruiting instruments are a potential employee's first point of contact with the company. Here the applicant in particular scans the company for suitability. If they realise that the company works differently than they do, no matter how senior the position is, they will probably not apply.
The cultural fit is not a one-liner in a job profile that changes everything overnight. It is a thought that has to be implemented across the departments with strategy workshops and change management. Then the search for employees will be quicker and more efficient. If the company is advanced in self-discovery, it should also show this in its job advertisements. For example, the following components are well received: the tonality should express how things work in the company. Is there a you-culture in the department? Then it's okay address readers informally! If you don't like it, you are not a cultural fit and will be filtered out. Team pictures are essential because applicants want an insight into everyday team life. A section on values and guidelines clearly states what the company stands for and what it does not The aim is for applicants to feel personally addressed by the position. Everything that belongs to the cultural fit should be found here. In particular, insights into the team are in demand, because the applicant will work with these people every day in the future. With photos, care should be taken to ensure that they convey values that belong to the company. If, for example, value is placed on cohesion, it can make sense to show images of the team on their last team building excursion. The job advertisements can also be creative. The following ideas are possible: Description of the typical working day in this job from the start time to the end of the day Description of the training and milestones of the first 1, 3 and 6 months in the job A challenge for the applicants who should be included with the application, e.g. a video or a test assignment Such elements should be fun and give both sides the opportunity to review the other's value system. Applicants have to find themselves here. The company, in turn, gets a first impression of who the applicant is, how they think and work and whom they will meet in a personal interview.
Company Culture
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Every person is different. There will never be 100% accordance between an employee's values and those of the company. But it doesn't have to be, because it is precisely these small differences that can make a team work together more successfully. It is important that the core values match on both sides. These can be values like: How are mistakes and challenges dealt with? Are they analysed openly and in a solution-oriented manner as a team in order to learn from the situation for the future? How are professional and personal weaknesses of individual team members dealt with? Is there an inclusive culture in which everyone helps each other? Does the work bring fulfilment or is it just seen as a means to an end to cover living costs? These factors are like communication in a couple’s relationship. If there are opposing views, the relationship as a whole will not work. A new employee who is more likely to point the blame at someone else for their own mistake will not survive in a department where the solution is more important than the question of guilt. The effects will be even more devastating if the attitudes between team leader and the team are divided on such important issues. But if the foundation is right, small personal differences can even be an advantage. They are like different opinions - each has a right to exist in its own way and they can help each other. For example, a team agrees that a mistake is not a mistake, but an opportunity to learn from it. Everyone now brings in their proposed solutions and the result is good, precisely because of the different experiences and skills of the employees. Many solution approaches ultimately result in a coherent overall picture.

Cultural fit as a productivity boost

Many companies now place more value on similar values than qualifications and even experience. Qualifications and references are important, some previous experience of an applicant is particularly valuable for his future work in the company – for example, in-depth industry knowledge or a successfully completed project that resembles a challenge in the company. A similar value system, however, is crucial for day-to-day operations and thus for the success of the team. There are several reasons for this:

Team members who think alike feel more human and can communicate better with one another

This improves the team dynamics and creates a motivating “sense of togetherness”

In difficult project phases, each individual feels that they are not working for themselves, but for the team as a whole

A team consists of people who have to complement each other in order to deliver a good result together. To do this, they have to get along with each other on a daily basis, be able to communicate productively and mutually call on the skills of others that they cannot contribute themselves. All of this only works if the human structure in the team is right.

A cluster of elbow mentalities is more likely to self-destruct over time than produce any result at all. If, on the other hand, the skills complement each other, are recognised and used, the team as a whole works together more efficiently. They come closer to each other and over time the “we” develops, in which everyone knows their role and its importance and is confirmed and valued by the other team members.

In a job interview, it is sometimes not that easy to assess the person in front of you. HR managers no longer only have to look through qualifications and suitability for the position, but also corporate culture factors. The same applies here: The basis is the thorough processing and conception of these values in advance. You have to form the strategic guideline for the interview and then the right questions will arise by themselves. These means can be used to find out whether there is also a cultural click between the position and the applicant: Which questions can be used to check whether the applicant's values match the company's core values? Trial assignments show how the applicant works Trial days in a team on a real task show whether the applicant can work together with the other employees and how they work in the team overall The most difficult are the questions and questioning techniques. During the trial work and the real situation in the team, it quickly becomes clear whether they fit or not. However, questions must be formulated in such a way that the answers indicate whether the values match. In addition, every applicant will probably want to be more positive in the interview. The following questions can serve as inspiration to bring your own right questions into the conversation: What is your ideal working day in your new job? What was your biggest challenge professionally and how did you solve it? What has been your greatest success professionally and how do you think it came about? What would the ideal team compilation look like for you? What roles and skills do team members need to have? What are your personal weaknesses and how do you actively compensate for them? Which skills would you like to acquire in the next few years? How would you deal with it if you made a mistake? What are the next steps and how do you prevent this from happening again? These questions are open-ended. There is no yes and no answers, so there are no right and wrong answers. You query the components of your corporate culture and give the applicant the freedom to answer individually and show you who they are. You can redesign critical questions such as the well-known weakness trap in such a way that the applicant is mentally steered in the right direction. They shouldn't whitewash themselves, but explain what they are perhaps not good at and how they deal with it. With this question, you express that you don't want to make them look bad, but you can hold the door open a little for them and steer them in a positive direction. This encourages applicants to be more honest, as they notice in the interview that this is exactly what you want from them. Even if things don't progress, the interview will be remembered in a good way.

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

In addition, your employees can help you find new candidates. After all, they know best who fits the corporate culture. You can find out how you can incorporate employee recommendations into your recruiting mix at the Firstbird demo.

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