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How to Hire for Culture Fit AND Culture Add
Written by Melanie Wertzberger
May 13th, 2021

A few years ago, research began to connect the dots between having a strong culture and business success. This created a brand new criteria to be added to the hiring manager’s checklist “Culture fit”. During interviews, companies would question; does this candidate align with our vision, mission, values and the personality of this team? Companies implemented this practice with the belief that it was the best way to promote the growth of their company and reduce employee turnover. Because ultimately, employees who fit in are likely to be productive at your company and are less likely to leave.

Fast forward a few years and we began to spot a flaw in the system. Hiring for culture fit was harming diversity within organizations. This had a negative impact on innovation for companies who experienced group think as a result of hiring only for culture fit. I would assume you have likely read articles or seen posts telling you to “Stop hiring for culture fit and start hiring for culture add!” These authors have accurately identified the downside of culture fit but instructing you to throw culture fit out the window will ultimately harm morale and hinder your business.

So, I would encourage a new method: Simultaneously hire for culture fit AND culture add.

To begin, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your current team in terms of culture, experience, background and personality. Being incredibly familiar with your current team's makeup including strengths, weaknesses, ethnicity, economic class, hobbies, former jobs, etc.

Next, you can implement the following practices into your recruiting procedures:

1. Recruit from different industries/fields

Look for employees who have the hard and soft skills required to fill the role but are utilizing these skills in a different field. For instance, if you are hiring for an account manager role at a pharmaceutical company. Consider searching for account managers currently in software sales or retail sales.

2. Hire in various locations

If your company is heavily based in one city, it may be time to consider opening remote roles or satellite offices. People from various locations often have different habits, thought processes, and experiences.

3. Source Candidates from various avenues

If you solely share your job postings on Indeed or you always hire employee referrals you may be trapping yourself inside a box of candidates that do not reflect the entirety of the talent pool available.

4. Ask the right questions during interviews

Candidates who have unique hobbies, have lived or worked in obscure places, who are interested in learning a specific new skill are all key indicators of culture add. You should also ask for specific examples of how they contributed to the culture at their former companies (better yet, ask their reference to this question).

5. Seek cross-departmental matches

Departments and teams should be made up of diverse individuals but you should strategically hire employees who will fit with the colleagues in a separate department than their own. If you hire Employee A in Finance and Employee B in Engineering knowing that they will click well, you can increase interdepartmental interactions.

In conclusion, you should look for candidates that have unique qualities without being totally obscure that they will not be able to integrate into your current team. If you hire solely for culture add, you could end up with a team that simply doesn’t match. Rather, you want to look for individuals that are 75% culture fit and 25% culture add. This will create an environment where the employee is comfortable enough that they can be productive and they are not at risk of immediate turnover. This comfort level will then give them the confidence to incorporate their 25% into the workplace. They will feel safe speaking up and contributing a different thought or new idea because not only are they a culture add but they are also a culture fit.

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