If you know your culture and how to assess cultural fit, it is easy to hire.

A recent Australian study showed that 72% of managers believe that they hired someone who was a good cultural fit. That shows that 28% of managers did not believe they had, or didn’t worry about cultural elements.

If you have difficulty in determining who may or may not fit into your business, then hiring can be hit-and-miss.


Ask yourself a few fundamental cultural questions about your company and the role being recruited:

  1. What is it like to work here?
  2. How do people get things done?
  3. What do we value?
  4. What values do we hold and how do our people work to our values?
  5. What do we value in how we and others work?
  6. What are the most important factors in someone succeeding in the role?
  7. What have we learnt from others who have recently joined or left us?
  8. Can we distinguish between a trainable weakness and a fatal flaw?

Then consider your selection and interviewing approach:

  1. If there is “no compromise on culture”, what are we willing to trade off in terms of skills and experience?
  2. How should we assess behaviours and cultural fit – do we have structured interviewing tools? Do we have psychological assessment tools available?
  3. Who should be part of our interviewing panel when assessing candidates against our culture? For example, other managers and team colleagues.

And just when you think you know the cultural fit required, consider that this may not always be a good thing:

  1. Perhaps cultural fit is overrated in your environment. Have you had team members in the past that were not initially a great cultural fit but were top contributors individually and within the team?
  2. Is the current culture holding you back in some areas? Maybe you need a change agent to shake things up a bit. This can encourage innovation and team improvement – but you must go in with your eyes open and manage the team dynamics carefully.
  3. Is your team a bit homogeneous? Is (good) “cultural fit” leaning towards (dangerous) “group think”? A mixture of behavioural attributes in the team might help freshen things up.
  4. Have you really assessed the “fundamental cultural questions” listed above? Are you working with a well thought out understanding of your cultural requirements, or are you just using “cultural fit” as a synonym for more people like Bill, or Jane, or yourself?

And remember, of course, that culture is a demonstrated set of values, attitudes and behaviours as they relate to a candidate’s approach to work. It is not age, gender, ethnicity, body shape, religion, sexual orientation or any other factor that would be considered discrimination.

For most companies, the cultural fit of a candidate is vital to a successful hire. It is better to invest time, use structured interview tools and assessments and involve others in the hiring decision.