Hiring for Cultural Fit: Watch for the Cons, as Well as the Pros

Hiring for cultural fit has been ingrained into recruitment mindsets for some time. And it’s undeniably important. But, unless hiring managers practice due diligence, their efforts can veer into dangerous territory.

The real goal may be cultural add, versus fit. This means building onto your strong, diverse culture and avoiding the looking glass effect, where interviewers are drawn to candidates who are similar to and thus make them feel good about themselves.

  • Interviewers may act on an intuitive sense of whether or not they would get along with a person, rather than whether that person is truly in sync with their company culture. This is where things get murky. It may not be glaringly obvious, but rather more of a nuance. For instance, an interviewer may develop an unconscious bias toward a candidate because, like themselves, they attended a lower prestige versus an Ivy League school – or they simply identify with them as someone it would be fun to hang out with after work.

What Cultural Fit Is …

True cultural fit, aka cultural add, is defined by a candidate’s sincere, shared enthusiasm about a company’s mission and purpose. Along with this comes a common approach to working and work styles, whether individually or collaboratively, and a mutual understanding of how to communicate, make decisions, and assess risk.

… And What It Is Not

Cultural alignment is not defined as a common educational, cultural or career background, a sense of familiarity with coworkers, or shared enjoyment of company perks like a ping pong table or dress down Fridays – although none of these are bad things. If there’s a way to find both, great. But be cautious of making decisions based any kind or level of bias, as well as those driven by gut feelings alone.

  • Be data driven in your decision-making. Use AI and other technical tools to help ensure objectivity. Now may be a good time to reevaluate the way you screen and interview candidates, to ensure that you’re giving everyone an equal chance.

A Framework for the Right Fit

Unless you have a robust, thoughtful process in place, hiring for cultural it can turn into hiring for “social fit” – recruiting people who click with or are similar to your decision makers. If this happens, your organization runs the risk of discriminating against candidates from different backgrounds. To avoid heading down that path, be sure these elements are built into your process:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • A clearly defined culture that ties directly to your business strategy.
  • A systematic, measurable system for the right fit.
  • A checklist of meaningful qualifications.

To ensure you hire not only the best talent, but the right talent to fit your unique company culture and preserve your winning employer brand, partner with the recruitment experts at PrideStaff Modesto. We offer more than three decades of experience in getting it right, as we continuously strive to innovate and improve our clients. Contact us today to learn more.