Culture Fit or Culture Add?

You’ve found a candidate who you think will fit in perfectly with your company culture. This is great, right? Maybe.

We have a tendency or an unconscious bias to hire or gravitate towards people who are of the same race, around the same education level, in the same economic status, or even have similar personalities to ourselves. This lends itself to a very “safe” working environment, but does it bring anything new to the team? If they fit in with the current team will they bring new thoughts or ideas? Will they speak out or agree with everything?

Culture fit has become an overused, some might say weaponized, phrase that hiring managers or interviewers tend to use when they want to reject a candidate who doesn’t fit their ideal view of what they are looking for, which is subconsciously, someone like themselves. Does it matter if you’d like to have cup of coffee with the person?

Instead, why not look for someone who has a different educational background, work experience outside your industry with transferable skills, is part of a different generation (prior to or after yours), unique cultural experiences, or considers themselves to be a member of different social communities than yourself?

Time and time again, research has told us that the most innovative teams are teams that have embraced diversity. They are better than homogenous groups at working through complex problems that are outside the typical routine.

So is there a “right” way or one best way to view culture fit versus culture add? Probably not.

The most important thing to remember is that hiring managers need to be intentional about what roles the new hires will fill in their organization. Be strategic in thought and exclude emotion. The next time you hire someone, check your unconscious biases by looking at how a candidate might add to your organization as opposed to how they might be similar to everyone else or the person who was in the role previously.