What Is Culture Fit? (And How to Assess It in Interviews)

Updated October 6, 2022

When hiring, recruiters look for specific skills and experiences from team members that can contribute to the company. They also look for character traits in candidates that make it easier to integrate them into teams and the company. As a human resource professional, understanding culture compatibility can help you hire and retain candidates who have shared values and can help the company grow. In this article, we define culture fit, describe company culture, outline the importance of culture compatibility when hiring, and explore how to assess it during the interview process.

What is culture fit?

Culture fit refers to how compatible employees are with a company's culture, goals, and values. Candidates who are a good cultural fit possess essential hard and soft skills that complement other people in the company. Culture fit also means that an individual embodies the company's mission and core values. Culture compatibility in the workplace is essential to ensure colleagues and managers can work together to complete essential tasks and projects. It also helps individuals on a team meet common goals and drives company growth.

Read more: What Is Work Culture? Definition, Elements and Examples

What is company culture?

A company's culture is the shared beliefs, attitudes, and value systems that drive the company. Companies usually project these beliefs and values through their mission and vision statements. Culture may affect other company factors such as shared goals and objectives, employee relations, shared core values, workplace environment, and approach to day-to-day processes. While it's standard for companies to establish values early, these can evolve over time.

Organizational culture impacts productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction. Companies can assess the culture fit of potential employees to ensure they contribute to the overall culture of the organization. Considering culture suitability in the hiring strategy also helps to establish cohesive workplace culture. An alternative is to consider the concept of culture adds. This implies that individuals can bring new perspectives and unique ideas to the team. It also brings diversity into the workplace in terms of perspectives and experiences.

Read more: What Is Company Culture? (With a List of Different Types)

Importance of culture compatibility when hiring

Here are some reasons you may consider culture compatibility when hiring:

Maintains cohesion

It's easier to have a cohesive work environment when people maintain shared core values. Shared values also make it easier to address conflicts and resolve challenges between managers and team members, as they share a commitment to the same goals. Understanding how people respond to conflicts and challenges personally and professionally can help you predict how they relate to coworkers and leadership.

Establishes a positive brand image

Companies usually build a brand image based on their core values. A company can also promote its brand image and create a balanced relationship between its brand and culture by hiring the right individuals for specific roles. These team members may help push the agenda and enhance the reputation of the company. These factors can contribute to the company's long and short-term administrative and financial goals.

Increases employee retention

Employee retention is the ratio of employees who remain with an organization or company over a given period. A significant aim of companies and human resource professionals when hiring new talent is to keep employees in the company for an extended period. When people suit a company's culture, it can create a positive work environment. When a company maintains a positive work culture, it can increase job satisfaction among employees. This employee satisfaction, in turn, provides an incentive for people to commit to the company long-term.

Improves performance

Companies set up performance metrics to measure the performance of individuals, teams, and departments. Cohesion between individuals and managers due to culture compatibility often drives motivation and performance. As people feel integrated into the company by sharing mutual goals and values, they may feel more motivated at work. They may see the job as less of an obligation and become encouraged to do high-quality work. People who feel connected to the brand may become invested in the company and drive growth and innovation. It's easier to establish this connection when the individual's goals align with the company's.

Identifies areas for organizational improvement

Evaluating people for culture compatibility often highlights areas in the company that require improvement. Recruiters can examine a company's operations in relation to its values and use them to draft interview questions to find candidates who may address those operations in need of improvement. Using this strategy can help you find talent with new ideas, diverse skill sets, and unique strengths that can add to the strength of the company's workforce and drive growth.

Contributes to long-term success

It's essential to hire the right individuals, as a company is only as strong as its workforce. Hiring compatible professionals can reduce turnover and increase engagement while ensuring stability and driving growth. When you hire candidates based on their culture compatibility, it increases their chances of having a long and successful career at the company.

Encourages a collaborative work environment

A company's culture generally influences the way people work. To ensure that an interview covers culture fit, you can include behavioural and scenario questions based on core work values, such as teamwork and collaboration. For instance, you may ask a candidate if they're a better team leader or team player. With this information, you can hire suitable individuals who can collaborate with others. By hiring people with complementary skills, you can balance their overall strengths and weaknesses personally and professionally. This may help increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

Attracts quality candidates

Candidates generally review a company's culture and values before applying for positions. Strong workplace values such as work-life balance, collaboration, and positive work ethics may encourage professionals to choose one company over others. A positive workplace culture also attracts like-minded individuals whose values align with the company. When you hire compatible people, they act as brand ambassadors who understand and project the company's values. They may also recommend the company to others in their networks and diversify the talent profile in the company. In addition, they may recommend like-minded clients, thereby expanding the company's reach.

Read more: The Importance of Leadership and Culture in Organizations

How to assess culture suitability during an interview

Some of the steps you can take to assess candidates for culture compatibility are:

1. Ensure that the job description matches company values and beliefs

When creating a job description, it's vital that it contains accurate details and gives candidates a sense of what it feels like to work with the company. For example, you can include a section describing the company's goals, mission, vision, beliefs, and values. You may also include the benefits and perks of working for the company. Include sections in the description detailing values that you look for in employees.

You can add the company's values by drawing up a list and evaluating the work environment to identify qualities that you want to find in potential employees. You may then include those qualities in the job description and use them to draft interview questions for candidates and determine if the candidate aligns with those features.

2. Review the candidates' work background

Before interviewing a candidate, you can test their culture compatibility by assessing their work history. Review their previous employers, their positions, the projects they completed, and their skills to give a general sense of their attitude, behaviour, and work ethic. For instance, if an individual's resume includes awards and work promotions, this can tell you that they're hardworking and value growth. You can also leverage this information to determine if the candidate can contribute to the company's growth over time.

3. Assess values and beliefs with interview questions

You can use interview questions to learn more about candidates and whether they're fit for the role and the organization. Reference company values when asking interview questions and try to spot references to these values in the candidate's responses. For instance, if one of the company's core values is collaboration and the candidate says they like to work with people, they may be a good fit.

4. Pay attention to the candidate's responses to behavioural questions

You can ask behavioural interview questions to assess a candidate's attitude and personality through previous experiences. For example, asking questions regarding how the candidate handled work situations in the past can give insight into their overall behaviour and approach. You can also ask questions to learn how they make decisions and determine if they're fit for the company.

5. Engage in casual communication

While learning about a candidate's work personality is essential, learning about their attitudes outside work is also helpful when interviewing. You can learn more about a candidate's personality by engaging in brief informal conversations before and after the interview. This can give you a better understanding of how they may relate to coworkers and leadership. For example, if a candidate maintains a cheerful disposition during small talk, they may create an amiable work environment and be a strong fit for the company.


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