Keeping your company’s culture in mind is a must-do when recruiting for open positions, but should you really hire for culture fit? Or is hiring for culture add the new way to go?
When done right, hiring for culture fit means looking for candidates that align with the core company values and the way that things are done at an organization, making it even more likely that they would thrive in the workplace and successfully perform as new employees.
Sounds logical, right? Most recruitment teams would agree: 83% of recruiters reportedly consider culture fit to be the most important hiring factor after previous job experience. Meshing with company culture is equally significant to candidates, as more than half of job seekers say that company culture is more important than salary when it comes to being satisfied at work.
But as is the unfortunate fate for many recruiting buzzwords, culture fit has been misinterpreted and misused to the point where the concept now does more harm than good. It’s time to say good-bye to hiring for culture fit and hello to hiring for culture add.
Dangers of Hiring for Culture Fit
Culture Fit Is Difficult to Define
How well a candidate fits into a company’s culture is incredibly subjective and hard to measure. One recruiter may see a candidate as a perfect culture match, and another may have a completely different perspective.
Leaving culture fit open to interpretation makes it susceptible to misuse. What recruiters and hiring managers often end up measuring instead is how well they get along with a candidate. This is where hiring for culture fit becomes problematic.
Prioritizes Similarities When Hiring
The rumors are true: birds of a feather really do flock together. Science shows that we naturally take comfort in identifying with people who are similar to us. In a recruitment context, this means that if a candidate shares a specific characteristic or lived experience with a hiring manager, this commonality creates a bond.
In turn, some hiring managers neglect to prioritize alignment between the company and the candidate — aka, what culture fit should really be about — and instead focus on alignment between themselves and the candidate. Hiring for culture fit turns into hiring for homogeneity, and I’m sure you can guess how this impacts DEI recruitment efforts.
Negates DEI Recruitment Principles
Selecting candidates based on how well you mesh with them goes against everything that equitable hiring stands for. What started as an attempt to hire for culture fit snowballs into a company that lacks diversity and struggles with DEI hiring practices.
Prioritizing sameness maintains the status quo and creates unconscious biases. Diverse candidates — whether this means diversity of thought or of demographic characteristics — find themselves at a disadvantage.
All in all, hiring for culture fit in this manner creates a workforce with employees that think and look the same. A truly successful company is a diverse company, where issues are tackled and innovations are created thanks to employees with a wide range of thought processes and lived experiences.
Start Hiring for Culture Add
Stop looking for someone who simply fits your company culture and start searching for something more meaningful: culture add.
Hiring for culture add means considering your company’s culture while looking for candidates who would enrich the culture with diverse experiences and ideas. In this way, your hiring team fosters a forward-thinking mindset by considering how adding certain perspectives and backgrounds would create a successful future for your organization.
How to Hire for Culture Add
Assess What’s Missing from Your Organization
It’s impossible to identify candidates who would add to your company culture without first examining what your company lacks. Perhaps you don’t have enough employees who take risks and propose pie in the sky ideas, or who thrive when hyper-focused on the details of a project.
Once you’ve identified what you’re missing, your hiring team can venture forward in their search for candidates who would be successful additions.
Ask Candidates How Your Culture Can Improve
A good candidate keenly understands and appreciates your company culture. A great candidate goes against the grain and recognizes where your culture needs improvements.
If a candidate acknowledges gaps within your company culture, they’d likely be an employee who contributes to your culture with positive change and a different perspective on how to do things, instead of an employee who assimilates to how things have always been done and fits your current company image.
By hiring candidates who can recognize these gaps, your company benefits from a diversity of thought that pushes your organization forward and challenges the status quo.
Diversify Your Sourcing Channels
If you’re struggling with hiring for culture add, it might be because your talent pool is too homogeneous. Take this as a sign that you need to add diversity to your sourcing strategies.
Start by getting acquainted with online job posting platforms that cater to diverse populations, such as the Professional Diversity Network and Diversity Job Board. Posting your job openings on these websites encourages historically underrepresented groups to consider employment at your company.
You can also seek out and hold events with local chapters and associations where diverse candidates meet. This way, you’ll form meaningful candidate relationships with job seekers who could add immense value to your organization’s culture.