Find Your Missing Pieces: Redefining Culture Fit for Success

Find Your Missing Pieces: Redefining Culture Fit for Success


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by Michael Lantry
Job Interview Preparation


As professional recruiters in GemPool, we are tasked with going out to the market and headhunting relevant talent for our clients. When we take on a role, we spend time qualifying the role with our clients. We ask questions about the technical skills required and other ‘must-haves’, the interview process, the salary on offer etc. These are clearly defined and factual. But there is one part of this conversation which is much harder to define. This revolves around understanding the kind of candidate that would be a strong culture fit. 

We have had candidates in the past who were an incredible fit on paper, who smashed the interview and were then offered the role. Then they go into the company and fall back out again as they are not a culture fit. Everyone understands the importance of hiring someone who is a strong culture fit for your business. I believe most managers would prefer someone on their team who is a strong culture fit, who needs to learn some parts of the job versus someone who can do the job easily but is not a culture fit. Culture is everything. 

In this blog I wanted to explore one approach to hiring that doesn't work. On the face of it, it seems like you are hiring people who are a culture fit, but ultimately it can have a very negative impact. What I am referring to is the situation where people hire people like them. What I mean by this is that the Hiring Manager or CEO hires people into the business who have a lot in common with them and therefore they like each other more and get along really well. 

This approach seems ok. But there are many pitfalls. On the plus side, you will end up with a group of people who get along really well and there could be a lot of harmony.  This group of people are all quite similar in their backgrounds, age, gender, ethnicity and upbringing. They will share a lot of the same values and beliefs. You see this quite a lot in startups where friends start a company together. They get in more of their friends or people from their wider social circles. So what is wrong with that? Value alignment and all believing the same things should be great for company culture right? Yes and no.

 

So why is this a dangerous way to try to ensure you are hiring for a strong culture fit?

culture fit interview 

Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik

  1. Group think

    If you hire people who are all from the same backgrounds, they will all see the world through the same lens and biases. This means you will create the dreaded group think in your teams. If everyone is thinking the same way, no one is seeing the flaws or playing devil's advocate. This will really stifle innovation and better ideas. 

  2. Ideation

    If you want to solve problems in your business you need people from all sorts of different backgrounds, genders, ages etc. so that you have a wider range of experiences in the room to help come up with better ideas and solutions for the problems. As humans we are set in our ways and these are built into us from an early age. Some of the best ideas come from the most random of places. 

  3. Narrow culture

    If you hire the same people into your company, for example all white male people from Dublin in their 20’s, you will make it harder and harder to attract diverse candidates. In this scenario, a female candidate from Asia who is in her late 50’s probably won't want to join the team as she might feel like she wouldn't fit in. You could be missing out on an incredible hire and end up bringing in the wrong people to your business. 

 

This is something we see a lot as a Hiring Manager is going to naturally like candidates more like them. The problem is that you think you are hiring someone who is a great culture fit but they could be all wrong for what is best for the company. 

To try to avoid this happening, you should be quite deliberate about trying to hire a wider spectrum of people into your business. Look for shortlists where there is a range of options for the role. All of them might fit the tech skills but having a variety of backgrounds, genders, ages and nationalities can be a great way of ensuring they are not just the best person for the job (in terms of skills) but also the best person for your culture, which in my view is more important. 

It's hard sometimes to recognise in ourselves if we like a candidate because they are a great fit or because they are more like us. You need to really reflect on your own biases and design a recruitment process that mitigates against this from happening. Be ok with the sometimes uncomfortable feeling that you might hire someone who isn't going to be a new potential best friend but could really add a lot to the team. 

I hope this blog was insightful and you enjoyed it. You can read similar blogs on GemPool’s insights page.


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Michael Lantry Michael Lantry michael.lantry@gempool.ie
+353 87 7546331