8 months ago by Meg Fenner - Jamieson

Cultural fit and why you need to pay attention to it


You’ve gone through 2 or 3 rounds of interviews with a candidate you think is perfect for the job. They’ve got all the qualifications, a couple of years’ experience in the same industry, and they’ve been doing the role for years. But before you put forward an offer, there’s one thing left to consider; are they a good cultural fit?

Cultural fit can be one of the hardest things to consider when interviewing potential employees, however it can (arguably) be one of the most important aspects of hiring, no matter what level you’re hiring for. Finding a candidate that ticks all the boxes regarding experience and qualifications can be hard enough, but when you then have to make sure the candidate also exhibits your company’s values, characteristics and culture it can feel rather overwhelming.

Every company’s culture is different and so are all the employees who make up your business. Not only do you want to hire candidates who would be able to do the role successfully, but you want someone whose behaviour and beliefs coincide with your visions and values as well.

Getting it right is essential, but that starts with defining your company culture properly. Yet when you ask, some people struggle to describe what it actually is. The reason it’s hard is that usually a company’s culture is defined by non-controllable factors.

Cultural fit is usually dependent on a few core factors:

  • • Motivation to do the work required for the role,

  • • Fit with the team and any potential managers,

  • • Fit with the pace and structure of the business,

  • • The candidate’s overall adaptability.

Identifying your company culture.

Before you can even begin thinking about hiring for cultural fit you need to have a clear idea of what your culture is and be sure that the environment you’ve created for your employees promotes positive attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours. It’s also worth bearing in mind that your culture reflects the people you have in your business, and all the life experience they bring with them.

According to a study, building an employer brand and company culture helps companies hire the right people (55%), retain a greater number of qualified candidates (49%), increase employee referrals (41%), and have more diverse candidates (32%). There’s no right way to identify your company culture, but you can paint a pretty good picture in a few ways:

  • • Take a look at your company values – what are your missions, objectives, goals, and standards? And how do your employees show this? Observe the actions of your employees, the standards you all hold yourself to, and the goals your company are working towards.

  • • Send around an internal survey. Ask your employees to help you assess the current culture, allowing you to figure out what you need to do more of, less of, start doing or stop doing!

  • • Observe the culture in action. Look at how everyone interacts with one another and ask yourself; Are there conflicts? If there are, how are they resolved? How do employees across different levels interact with one another?

Ask the right questions.

The interview stage is your perfect opportunity to ask questions that relate directly to the candidate’s personality. Try and mix in a few questions that give a glimpse into whether or not the candidate’s values and characteristics are in line with your own. A few good ones to get you started could be:

  • • What values are most important to you?

  • • What is your most positive/negative personality trait?

  • • What is your ideal work environment?

  • • What management style motivates you to do your best?
  • • What characteristics do you have that make you think you’re right for this role?

And give them a chance to ask you the right questions.

Once you’ve had your chance to ask all the questions you want, it’s only fair to give the candidate the same opportunity. Not only does it allow the candidate to decide for themselves whether they’ll be a good fit for you, but also gives you or your hiring managers a chance to see how they communicate, what their personality is like, and what’s important to them.

Recognising cultural fit and ensuring employees reflect company values shouldn’t be understated. It is a key driver of motivation and on-the-job performance. Your company culture plays a crucial role across all aspects of your business, from providing your employees’ direction to making sure everyone ‘gets along’.

Using strategies to hire someone for culture fit means you’re creating happier, productive, and cohesive teams. Employees who understand and reflect your company’s culture and values are your best brand ambassadors and tend to boost morale and teamwork in the workplace.