Digging into Cultural Fit

Digging into Cultural Fit

One of the most prominent terms of 2012 in regards to hiring and staffing has been Cultural Fit. This will probably continue into 2013, as it’s an important characteristic to consider when you’re hiring.

While intentions are good when a company says it wants employees to be a good cultural fit, it seems like everyone is defining the term however they want. There was a good anecdotal article on the thought process behind cultural fit on ERE.net.

For example, you’ll see companies such as Mule, a San Francisco design studio, have job postings such as this:

  • 3+ years experience designing web sites and web applications in a client-services environment
  • an overwhelming desire to create the best web sites on the Internet
  • a burning need to push design into its next evolutionary stage
  • no fear of clients, or of telling clients things they might need to know but are afraid to hear
  • the ability to work collaboratively across disciplines (IA, strategy, interaction design, code) and ideas about how to grow the intersections between them
  • the verbal skills to help clients understand what we’re building for them
  • a powerful intellectual curiosity
  • a strong sense of craftsmanship
  • a year or three working a crap job in the restaurant industry

Or you’ll see other companies post things like “You must love foosball” or “We like to wear silly hats on Tuesday” (I’m not joking…ok I am about the hats, but I bet there’s one out there). And while these do give insight into the company, I wonder how these companies quantify these desired cultural fit traits?

What type of person has ‘a powerful intellectual curiosity’? What type of person enjoys playing foosball instead of working?

This seems like the same old thing with a new twist. We make generalized statements about what we want in a candidate and are then forced to go with our gut in assessing whether or not that person will fit. We do it with looking at a resume (“They went to blank school, so they must be a hard worker”) and now we’re doing it with cultural fit (“They’re wearing a silly hat, they’ll fit perfectly around here”).

Cultural Fit is something that you can quantify. In fact, we’ve written about how to quantify cultural fit. You can read that article here.