Why you shouldn’t hire for cultural fit
Harriet O’Neill, June 20th 2024

We’re constantly speaking to businesses about their hiring processes, and how they can effectively assess candidates for their cultural fit. The truth is, the water surrounding hiring for cultural fit is murky, and there are some important points to consider when trying to assess it.

Problems with hiring on cultural fit

Cultural fit is defined as the overall degree to which a person fits into, or is expected to fit into an organisation. It’s understandable to want to hire people who align with your business values, but assessing whether someone is a cultural fit isn’t the best measurement of whether they’re right for your business. Here are the issues with assessing for cultural fit:

Internal biases: To make a completely fair decision on a person’s cultural fit, the hiring decision maker would need to be completely neutral. This of course is unrealistic as everyone has internal values and beliefs that influence their decisions, often unconsciously. This means that the idea of a ‘perfect cultural fit’ is often subjective and influenced by personal biases.

Similarity bias: A common misconception is that a good company culture is made up of a group of people that all share the same values, beliefs and interests. It’s too easy to hire someone because you like them, or because you’re like them. By looking at candidates who are similar to the rest of your team, you’re inadvertently promoting homogeneity, resulting in a lack of diverse perspectives.

Groupthink: Groupthink occurs when a desire for harmony in a group of people leads to everyone thinking the same way. This is a common outcome of using cultural fit as a measure of a candidate’s ability to succeed in your business. Groupthink can be damaging to innovation and creativity.

Why diversity matters

So, we know we don’t want to hire a group of individuals that all look, sound and think the same. Diversity is crucial to the success of your business, with research showing that diverse teams deliver 60% better results than homogeneous ones. But why is this?

Broader perspectives: Diverse teams bring together different backgrounds, experiences and opinions. This variety means that problems are approached from multiple angles, leading to more innovative solutions.

Better decision-making: Diverse teams make better decisions because they’re equipped to consider a wider range of factors and outcomes. Diverse groups are more likely to examine facts and challenge assumptions, which means they make better decisions than homogeneous teams 87% of the time.

Enhanced retention: Having a diverse team will make it easier for you to attract and retain talent. A study showed that 69% of millennial and Gen Z workers are likely to stay with a company for five or more years if it has a diverse workforce.

How to hire for culture effectively

Hire for cultural add: Think about what new perspectives and experiences the candidate can bring to your team. Instead of assessing them based on whether they can slot into your culture, consider how they might enhance and diversify it. This approach will help promote diversity while helping you build a stronger, more dynamic team.

Have a diverse hiring team: When your hiring team is diverse, it brings a range of perspectives to the decision-making process. This can help counteract individual biases, and lead to a more balanced assessment of whether a candidate is right for the role.  

Use psychometric testing: A great way to reduce bias when assessing a candidate is to use psychometric testing. This can help you accurately assess and understand a candidate’s personality and values and will provide data on the candidate’s potential, rather than basing your decision on a gut feeling.

Get in touch

If you go out deliberately trying to hire for cultural fit, the chances are you’re going to build a homogeneous team with little diversity. So, change your mindset to hiring for cultural add, and assess candidates based on what they can bring to your business, versus how they’ll fit in. For more advice on hiring inclusively, check out the Bristol Inlcusion Hackathon toolkits here.

If you’d like some help or advice on creating an effective hiring process, get in touch with our team on 0117 428 0600.

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