As a human resources manager or hiring manager, you’re likely familiar with the term “culture fit”, which means hiring individuals who fit into your team and who are a good match with your company culture.
For an outdoors company, hiring for culture fit could mean hiring individuals who are into hiking or camping or marathons. A company selling plant-based products may want to hire individuals who follow a vegan lifestyle for a good cultural fit.
More broadly, hiring for culture fit means short-listing, and hiring, candidates who have experience or education similar to that of current employees—or individuals with similar traits or interests.
However, hiring for culture fit does have some disadvantages as it can often promote homogeneity and a lack of diversity within your organization. If you’re overly focusing on cultural fit during the recruitment process, you might be missing out on qualified candidates.
Further to that, studies have found that ethnic diversity and gender equality positively correlate with profitability and that companies with above-average diversity show a 19% increase in profits due to innovation.
Related reading: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: Quick Wins for the Office
The solution? Focus on “culture add” throughout the interview process to find and hire employees who will add value and different perspectives to your workplace culture and organization.
Continue reading to learn more about the concept of culture add, including how to make the shift from culture fit and which interview questions to ask to assess culture add and hire top talent.
Hiring for culture fit vs culture add
The practice of hiring for culture fit has come under scrutiny for its tendency towards implicit (unconscious) bias.
Related reading: Implicit Bias: Horn and Halo Effect(s) in the Workplace
Lars Schmidt, a contributor for Forbes on recruiting, culture, employer branding and the future of work, has said this about culture fit: “A hiring process built around an undefined notion of ‘culture fit’ is fraught with bias.”
Typically, culture fit focuses less on candidate experience and more on work style or personality. A qualified candidate who comes across as quiet during the interview process may be deemed a poor fit for a team that’s typically outspoken and outgoing.
Related Reading: Are skills-based hiring and reskilling the future of work?
However, if that same candidate is evaluated on their experience and you (the interviewer) ask yourself “What new processes and ideas does this candidate bring to my organization and team?”, the outcome could be entirely different. The focus shifts from finding someone who merely fits into your team to someone who actively adds value.
Related Reading: Getting Hired Up: How to Write a Job Posting to Attract More Talent
Culture add interview questions
When hiring for culture add, there are questions you should ask each candidate—and questions you should ask yourself—to determine the skills and value a potential employee could bring to your organization.
Related reading: 5 Most Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Here’s a list of questions to ask candidates:
- Describe a time when you helped a coworker or direct report with a work problem.
- Describe an occasion at work when you had to do something you didn’t agree with. How did you handle it?
- How do you measure success at work? How does a successful day at work look for you?
- Describe a time when you received feedback from a supervisor or someone on another team. How did you react? What was the end result?
- What have you learned in the past year that you’re more proud of?
- What are your career goals? Have they changed?
- How do you like to be managed?
- What attracted you to the role?
- How do you maintain work-life balance?
Related Reading: How to Host a Virtual Career Fair
Now, here’s a list of questions to ask yourself:
- What gaps in our knowledge can this candidate fill?
- Does the candidate have knowledge of any new processes or techniques that we would benefit from having?
- Could this employee challenge our way of thinking and suggest improvements to our current processes?
- Does this candidate represent a voice or viewpoint for our customers that we’re missing? Or would they help us better communicate with prospective customers by having this voice or viewpoint?
Related Reading: Mind the Gap: COVID-19 and Job Applicants With Employment Gaps
Over to you
Companies who have a reputation of hiring for culture add, not culture fit, can attract more diverse candidates and get a leg up over competitors when it comes to talent acquisition.
By making culture add a significant part of your employer brand, you’ll be able to hire and retain employees who can help improve your processes and your revenue.
Related Reading: Bringing meaning to the everyday with core values at work
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