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Cultural fit: Techniques for getting it right

You may have heard the saying: ‘Hire for cultural fit, train for skills.’ Switched-on employers understand the value of recruiting for cultural fit.

Bringing new employees to the team who are a great match for your organisation’s core values, goals, practices and collective behaviours, is paramount. It supports high performance, encourages employees to stay with you longer and be strong brand ambassadors. It saves you money because employees with excellent cultural fit settle in quicker.

But how do you recruit for something that’s not as tangible as, say, education, technical skills or specific project experience?

Here are practical techniques for getting it right with recruitment and cultural fit.

Understand cultural fit

If you don’t understand why cultural fit is important, you might miss the mark when recruiting. Essentially it’s when a candidate is a match for your organisation’s beliefs, attitudes and way of working.

If your organisation is collaborative, for example, you may not want new team members whose strengths are in working independently, but rather those who work as valuable team members of a team. Conversely, if your organisation has a rigid hierarchy, you might not want new employees who love collaborating across a flat structure but rather those comfortable with a siloed approach.

Cultural fit also means building a rich and diverse workforce, not one that’s too uniform.

Work with a recruiter to interview for success

Recruiters are experts at looking at cultural fit, and thinking laterally about hard skills versus soft skills and transferrable skills.

These recruiters add tremendous value to your recruitment by helping you develop questions that test cultural fit (without compromising on requisite skills). They’ll likely have ideas you haven’t thought of.

Questions could be along these lines:

What is you first impression of our culture and do you feel you’ll fit in?

Why do you want to work for our company?

What attracted you to this role?

What type of culture are you attracted to?

What type of team do you thrive in?

What do you think our website says about us?

What gets you excited about getting up and going to work?

How do you like to be managed?

Do you prefer a quiet office environment or a lively one?

Expert recruiters can also help you examine the physical components of cultural fit, including how your office is configured (open concept or closed offices) and the type of facilities you offer.

Also think about how to impress candidates when interviewing them, with tips in this expert article.

Select the right recruiter

Not all recruitment companies are the same. Some are modeled around ‘people’ and people only. Some are boutique and structured around attentive, personalised support.

Here are ideas to think about when selecting a recruiter:

Are all recruitment agencies equal?

Why choose a recruiter that makes waves

Get prepared from your end

Candidates can’t assess how they fit into your culture if they don’t know what that culture is. It’s your job to explain and demonstrate what makes your company tick. This includes your vision, mission and values.

Have you clearly covered these in recruitment documentation and recruitment advertising? On an easy-to-find page on your website? Through social media?

Smart candidates research before applying for positions and when preparing for interviews. Make sure they can ‘see and feel’ your culture.

Cultural induction

It’s critical that your induction process includes cultural components to help new team members settle in smoothly and quickly.

Here are more tips for onboarding new staff:

Onboarding newstarters during COVID-19

How to onboard a new team member

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