Cultural Add Vs. Cultural Fit

Historically, companies have focused their efforts on finding the “right” candidate based on their cultural fit within an organization. The term “fit” is often used to describe someone who would act as a team player, join the organization’s mission and not necessarily challenge the status quo.

As more companies move towards a diversity and inclusion trend, they are focusing on cultural add rather than fit. We’ll explore the concept of cultural add and the benefits of challenging historical screening processes.

Cultural Fit

When assessing what a candidate might bring to an organization, companies often placed emphasis on hiring someone who would “fit in” easily. This can mean a number of things. Focus on cultural fit can lead hiring managers and decision makers to fall victim to unconscious biases. In addition, cultural fit can lead to legal pitfalls as well. Since the term itself “fit” can open up the organization to

cultural add

potentially discriminatory screening practices.

That being said, it’s hard to retrain ourselves. The term has been a catchphrase used for years in the hiring process. However, cultural fit builds a culture of “us vs. them” and a mentality that can be toxic.

What is Cultural Add?

The term cultural add challenges the idea of a new hire needing to fit an organization. Cultural add is used as a method of screening. When assessing cultural add, you consider what unique qualities a person brings to your organization. This is directly in contrast to deciding if the person will fit in.

When you hire someone that enhances your diversity, it allows your team to grow by more than just numbers. There’s much to be learned by meeting people from different backgrounds. In short, diversity drives innovation. And innovation can superpower company growth.

Here are some factors to consider when assessing cultural add:

  1. Skills. Does the candidate bring unique technical or soft skills to the table that your team is lacking? For example, if you have a team that isn’t entirely tech-savvy, considering a candidate with a technical background might be a great idea. If your team is all technically proficient, perhaps consider hiring someone that can provide a different perspective and speak to a specific part of your customer base.
  2. Experience. It’s no secret that our life experiences shape who we are, how we communicate and what we value. People with different upbringing and culture help serve as the voice of the customer you may not know your serving.
  3. Personality. It’s comfortable to select a candidate that seems like “us” but choosing a candidate who is a great fit in every way except perhaps personality still brings a lot to the table. Before you eliminate a candidate because their personality didn’t shine in the interview consider a few things. Is the candidate a nervous interviewee? Was your interview comprehensive, prepared and professional? Have you considered introversion and whether or not extroversion is actually essential to the job duties?

Eliminating Cultural Fit

When something is so ingrained in the hiring process, it’s hard to know where to start making changes. Here are a few tips to help eliminate the concept of cultural fit:

cultural fit

  1. Consider using inclusive language in your job descriptions
  2. Start an unconscious bias training for all interviewers. Go a step further and do it for your whole organization.
  3. Start asking your hiring managers what the candidate brings as a complement to the team rather than asking if they’ll fit.
  4. Craft a diversity statement and learn it and embody it in your every interaction.
  5. Consider a diverse hiring panel as part of your process.
  6. Have patience with yourself and your organization, change is tough.

The Takeaway

The concept of cultural add helps curb unconscious biases. And as a result, the entire organization elevates by being inclusive. While change is hard, it’s necessary to continue to grow an organization.

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