04 July 2015

paperplanes: “Why hiring for ‘Culture Fit’ hurts your culture”

There’s one fundamental mistake in both using and looking for culture fit as a means for hiring: You’re assuming that your current culture is healthy and doesn’t need to be changed.

Using culture fit as a reason to fire or not to hire says more about you than it says about them. It says that you’re not willing to dig deep and figure out what exactly you think doesn’t match in your expectation and a candidates personality. It shows that your culture is a fixed property of your company and team, one that can’t be changed, one that is exactly where you want it to be.

“Culture fit” hampers the biggest benefit of any great team: diversity. Stop using it and start looking at the real reasons why you don’t want to hire someone. They might not be their flaws but yours.

Mathias Meyer

Absolutely! The same assumptions can hurt the work environment after people are hired, because ‘culture’ aspects new employees are ignorant about can contradict their expectations and values. Assumptions like ‘here we often do overtime’ or ‘we arrive on time for work even if there’s no real business need’ or ‘coffee breaks are wasted time’. New hires will be quietly frustrated by them, forced to abandon their own little conveniences to ‘fit in’ or to leave for a more flexible place. To quote some examples from the tech world, you often hear about Google’s ‘engineering culture’ or Apple’s ‘design culture’, but this internal culture bias caused deficiencies in other areas: has struggled for years to improve the design of its products, while is still weak in cloud services and data processing.

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