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Why You Should Be Hiring for “Culture Add”, Not Culture Fit

March 31, 2016 at 9:00 AM Kathleen de Lara

culture add

Beware of hiring people cut from the same cloth as your team – it could work against what you’re striving to build.

To start, let’s define company culture – an organization’s “genetic code”, an understanding of the overall vision, mission, and values demonstrated by employees’ actions and attitudes. Finding people who embody your company’s standards and principles can be a challenge, but lock in a few, key individuals, and it may seem like you have the blueprint to building a model team. That’s exactly the problem.

Organizations are often prone to finding and hiring people they like – employees who work hard, collaborate well with others, contribute to the company, and ultimately, jibe with the culture in place.

While this can almost guarantee you’re hiring someone who will do and fare well with the team, consider who you’re missing out on by dismissing people who aren’t exactly “perfect,” or fit the mold of who you already have on your team. Hiring for culture fit is frequently misunderstood as hiring people with similar attitudes, traits, beliefs, and experiences as those on the team. That can mean identifying candidates who graduated from top universities, previously worked at a highly regarded orgs, or who are experts and purple squirrels of their domain.

As Jon Bischke explains on HR Happy Hour, for some companies, culture fit becomes a matter of bucketing candidates under these checkboxes: Does this person look like us? Talk like us? Walk like us? Thinking of culture fit this way encourages bias, exclusiveness, and the likeliness for companies to multiply the status quo.

Instead, hire people who are a “culture add” – that means people who not only support the team’s values and professional ethics, but also bring an aspect of diversity to the team. Alternative viewpoints, unconventional experiences, rare, specialized skill sets. Hiring people who add to your culture also champions a more inclusive means for evaluating candidates, rather than focusing on what a candidate doesn’t have. Instead, think: What can this person could bring to the table?

When employees experience the benefits of a diverse team, they’re more naturally inclined to seek diverse candidates to support a continually developing team. More, newer ideas are discussed, different communication styles thrive, and candidates from diverse backgrounds become engaged with what your company has to offer.

For more on this, check out the full episode:

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