How to Hire for Culture Fit, and Why It Matters

Contrary to popular belief, company culture is not “the way we do things around here.” That just describes the way things have been done, not the way a company sees itself or wants others to see it. Nor does it refer to shared educational or social backgrounds—or the biases that often come with it.

Company culture is different because it’s often shaped by people who want to change the status quo and infuse a sense of mission and purpose into the workplace. Every company’s culture is different, but it should be inclusive of diverse backgrounds while embracing a shared vision.

When companies have a good handle on their culture and hire for culture fit, they can improve employee retention, performance, and overall recruitment. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. Here are the keys to keep in mind.

Understand What Organizational Culture Means

Organizational culture refers to employees’ shared assumptions and norms, as well as tangible aspects of the work environment that influence and reflect these beliefs. Ideally, employees are comfortable when a company hires for cultural fit.

The most important aspects of organizational culture are the beliefs employees and leaders share about behavior and its consequences. If employees believe they will be punished for pointing out flaws in their boss’s ideas, they may not share feedback, even if it would be accepted. Similarly, employees who believe their contributions are truly valued are more likely to forgive minor inequities in compensation and benefits.

If your organization welcomes critical feedback from lower-tier employees, you need to make that clear to your employees and potential new hires. Likewise, a little praise and encouragement for positive contributions can go a long way toward demonstrating their value to the organization. Culture must be, well, cultivated.

Choose a Culture for Your Company

James Collins and Jerry Porras, authors of Built to Last, researched the characteristics of 18 companies that remained consistently among the top of their markets for more than 50 years. They included Hewlett-Packard, 3M, Motorola, Procter & Gamble, Merck, Nordstrom, Sony, Disney, Marriott, and Walmart.

Surprisingly, they found that these companies didn’t share any common, distinctive cultural attributes. However, they all placed tremendous value on hiring, developing, and managing employees based on clear cultural principles and beliefs. Each knew what culture they wanted to have, aligned their organization accordingly, and sought to hire for culture fit.

“In 17 of the 18 pairs of companies in our research, we found the visionary company was guided more by a core ideology—core values and a sense of purpose beyond just making money—than the comparison company was,” Collins wrote.

Their conclusion was that a deeply held core ideology gives a company both a strong sense of identity and a thread of continuity that holds the organization together in the face of change.

Walt Disney, for example, created an entire language to reinforce his company’s ideology. Disneyland employees are “cast members,” customers are “guests,” and jobs are “parts” in a “performance.” Disney required that all new employees go through a Disney Traditions orientation course, in which they learned the company’s core mission is “to make people happy.”

Make Culture Part of Your Recruitment

The main relationships between culture and recruiting are associated with employee attraction, selection, and retention. From an attraction standpoint, culture is primarily about the brand image a company projects.

Companies that take culture seriously actively market their culture to candidates. This attracts people who will thrive in the organization and repels people who would be more effective working elsewhere.

Another reason to recruit around culture is that while job demands and requirements constantly shift, a defining characteristic of culture is that it remains constant in the face of change.

A person hired based on culture fit is more likely to continue on as a valuable company resource, even if the original position ceases to exist. In fact, an effective organizational culture actually helps people work together to adapt to business changes.

Hire for Culture Fit the Right Way — With Expert Help

There’s a right way and a wrong way to hire for culture fit and the key is understanding your company culture and the employees you need. With years of experience in the job market, Monster knows what it takes for companies to find the right fit for their workforce. If you want to find employees that amplify your company culture, we have free resources to help you get the most out of your recruiting and retention strategies, as well as helpful hiring tips, job trend data, and more.