Recruit to ADD to your culture, not for culture FIT

4 minutes
Diane Duberry

By Diane Duberry

Ever heard the term “they’re not the right fit for our culture”?

This is a common reason given when a candidate is not offered the job after interview, but why exactly has the candidate been rejected?

When an organisation wants candidates to FIT with their culture, they have often created a workplace environment where everyone has the same points of view and life experiences. There are assumptions that if someone has a similar personality and social skills as other team members they will succeed, and this will increase team bonding and productivity.

The team can be diverse in the way of gender or race for example, but you often find these homogeneous teams share similar perspectives, beliefs, backgrounds or hobbies - for example all team members went to university, vote for the same political party, or share a passion for sport. A candidate that doesn’t share these can be rejected even though they have the right skills and potential for the role.

Whilst recruiting for culture FIT does have its advantages - it is easier to use the same recruitment methods to recruit like for like, it can avoid misunderstandings in the workplace, and can provide equal access and participation for all team members, the disadvantages far outweigh these and recruiting for culture FIT can lead to:

  • lack of diversity
  • lack of inclusion
  • an increase in bias and unconscious bias
  • a toxic environment if colleagues do not want to upset the balance and question bad behaviours
  • new employees feeling like they don’t fit in, which can lower staff retention
  • the desire for harmony resulting in poor decisions not being questioned (group think)
  • candidates “self selecting” themselves out of recruitment process•lower creativity and innovation
  • colleagues not inspiring or challenging each other as all have similar experiences and may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable to suggest new ideas or challenge the status quo
  • lower productivity if the company culture is weak and staff are not motivated
  • reduction of career advancement opportunities
  • organisation not maximising potential

So what is culture ADD and why is it a better option when recruiting?

When recruiting for culture add you are looking for new candidates that will bring something to the team beyond the similar style of the current culture, they ADD to the culture, rather than simply slotting in. Over time you will create a heterogeneous team and a wealth of benefits:

  • Adds diversity to the current team culture
  • Team becomes a mixture of cultures, ages, gender, opinions, life experiences, races, backgrounds etc and will reflect the communities you work in and support
  • Adds different abilities and talents to the team
  • Can create stronger dynamics within teams
  • Organic development into roles: leaders, innovators, organisers, communicators, peacekeepers
  • Encourages diversity of thought
  • Higher levels of creativity
  • Improves ability to respond to range of challenges
  • Increases learning opportunities
  • Increases a sense of inclusion throughout the team
  • Increases staff retention

How you can successfully recruit to ADD to your culture

Adding to the culture requires consideration of communication and working processes as the team develops. Managers need support as they may have only led a team of similar personalities before and will need to consider mixed learning and communication styles, different abilities, motivators, and potential adjustments within the team. They may never have experienced a team member questioning the status quo and must be open to hearing new ideas and alternatives to current processes.

When recruiting for culture ADD, inclusive recruitment and leadership is essential. Audit the interview process and identify any steps that might (unconsciously) lead to bias or discrimination in the process. Before recruiting, it is good practice to identify what is currently missing from the existing culture so you can prepare interview questions accordingly - what skills, talents, experience, characteristics, or personality types are absent?

Interview questions should aim to establish the candidate’s way of working, thinking and behaving – by asking the right questions and looking for the right answers you can add to the culture rather than just looking for someone to fit in. Interview questions should aim to establish:

  • If the candidate has specific skills or knowledge that is currently lacking in the organisation
  • If the candidate will challenge the status quo
  • Whether the candidate represents a specific view, voice or background that is missing in the current team dynamic

Interview questions that can help establish if the candidate can ADD to the culture include:

  • How does your work style add value to a team?
  • What do you feel you can bring to the team / organisation?
  • Tell me about a time when understanding someone else’s perspective helped you accomplish a task or resolve an issue.
  • What is your impression of our company’s culture, values, and mission? How do you think we could improve?
  • What have you learned in your previous role that you’re most proud of?
  • What skills, interests, or passions do you have that sets you apart from others in this role?
  • You are tasked with learning a new skill at work. How do you ensure that you learn this skill quickly and efficiently?
  • How do your values help you motivate struggling team members?

Once you have recruited for culture ADD, it is essential to be open to cultural differences and new ways of working to ensure the new candidate, and all staff, feel included and comfortable to be themselves at work. Encourage employees to share their experiences and learn from each other and this will thoroughly enrich the existing company culture.

If you would like to discuss recruiting for culture add, or inclusive recruitment in more detail, please get in touch at: / 020 7198 6110

  • 020 7198 6000
  • TPP Recruitment, Northern & Shell Building, 4th Floor, 10 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6AF