What would you say is the most valuable part of recruitment? Your Skills? Your Experience? The Pay Packet?

It’s none of them.

The most important thing is that you fit in with the company. That the people you work with are all part of the same team and that you fit within that not only improves your quality of work, but your work experience, the customer and client experience and so much more. Your personality has to match the company’s ethos and the team’s ethos.

Understanding culture fit and what it is important for your job search. You need to be able to define and articulate the business culture – its values, goals, and practices. Do they match with you own? Do you want to be a part of a team working towards this goal?

What Is Cultural Fit?

First of all what do we mean when we say business or company culture. A company’s culture are the values and beliefs of the company or their founders, through to the collective culture of the employees, interactions between management and staff, and the environment in which they work.

This business personality is the glue that holds a team or an organisation together. It leads to a host of benefits such as improved productivity, efficiency, better results, better mental health for everyone, better customer service and so much more. That’s why it’s a key trait to look for when recruiting.

No matter how you define it, your company culture is incredibly important. We aren’t the only ones who think so — a Deloitte study found that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is an important component of business success.

An increasing number of business leaders and HR managers are recognising the importance of hiring people who have the personality and business attributes to match the values, beliefs and attitudes upheld in their organisation.

They are also paying more attention to their culture, making changes to better their culture to benefit themselves, their ethos, and their teams.

So when you’re doing your job search, you’re not just looking at the role, but should be asking; Why do I want to work for this company?

Just like there are variations in individual’s personalities, business culture varies from company to company. It’s why some people fit into one set of business values and a particular working environment, but not in others.

Cultural fit is essentially all about matching people with business culture. The best recruiters are job matchmakers, looking beyond skills and experience to find a place you will love and they love you.

It seems simple but, it’s really important to understand that cultural-fit hiring doesn’t mean recruiting people who are identical, in fact it’s the opposite. A diverse workforce actually creates a great company culture, with different approaches coming together to work towards a singular goal.

Why Is It Important To Me?

Summing up: the right environment will see you soar and succeed and have an amazing time in your employment benefitting your promotion prospect, career development and mental health.

However, get it wrong and cracks will appear. A great company culture can quickly turn toxic either from lack of inclusion, poor management, or an outward ethos that doesn’t match the work environment inside.

A toxic work environment can have disastrous consequences for you, your health, your mental health and your career.

There’s lots of research out there to support the fact that if people are too similar in personality or identity that the business will suffer. Diverse teams bring differences to the table and that is good. They say opposites attract, well it works in business too.

For example, if you’re an older person returning to the workplace after caring for your children on paper that may not appear to fit into a culture of younger people happy to work late and sacrifice lots of time, but you will bring a whole lot of knowledge and life experience to the table that could make a difference to the business.

Remember, just because you aren’t exactly like the others and can’t go to the pub due to family commitments, it doesn’t mean you don’t uphold the same values of the business or the team.

The underlying cultural hallmark of an organisation should be embraced by its employees. If a business has a highly collaborative approach to working, then a person who only works well on their own, may not be the best fit. But, to enrich company culture, it’s important not to build teams with people who all think, look and act the same way.

The Reasons Why Culture Fit Is Important

You’ll Be Happier

Let’s kick off with the most obvious one. When people feel like they belong, or are doing something they believe in, they’re usually very happy. So when you join a company whose beliefs are in tune with your own, you’re most likely to be happy, leading to improved mental health, engaging more, working hard and going above and beyond.

People that don’t match the culture or fit in won’t be satisfied in their jobs and have the potential to create a toxic work environment. This will impact the business, the team, and you as an individual.

You’ll Perform Better And Be More Productive

Being happy in your job also comes with another benefit, you’re likely to perform better, be more productive and work harder. Think about it like this, when you’re happily doing something you enjoy, do you ever look at the time and think “wow time has flown by?”. Imagine if that happens and you get paid for it?!

Ever wake up some days and think “I can’t be bothered?” or do you just feel like putting in the hours is more effort than it’s worth? A poor culture leads to this productivity drain. Whilst even in the happiest jobs you may have days feeling like this, if only the whole you’re happy, you’ll be doing better at your job.

You’ll Be Part Of The Team

No one wants to bring the team down or to let the team down. If you enjoy working with your team, gelling with the people in it and achieving great results, this is what a good company culture offers. A team that works together with the same core values as you function better.

Not only this, you’re able to resolve professional and personal differences much more easily and quickly, overcoming them to find the best solution moving forward.

Your Communication Will Improve

Have you ever spoken to someone who just “get” you? Who understands exactly you’re your saying before you’ve even finished the sentence? Well, with organisations that have a strong culture, communication is generally a lot better, with information passed through quickly and efficiently and also more accurately. When the business and team values are in sync then people find it easier to openly communicate and engage with each other.

You’ll Stay Longer At The Company

Given that we spend more than a third of our life in the workplace, it is important you not only enjoy your work but also where you work. If you don’t then you’ll be brushing off that CV a little faster than you might like. Staying at a company not only increases the chance for promotion but can also open up other career development opportunities that will help you further down the line.

So How Do I Find Out If A Company Is Right For Me?

Identify Your Own Values

Identify past work environments where you’ve felt most happy. Whether it was the opportunity to take lead on projects, a collaborative environment, clear and transparent organizational goals, or maybe even the short commute—anything goes.

Now, think about the type of environments that motivate you and stimulate your productivity. Do you work best under a deadline or when you have the freedom to work within your own schedule? Do your ideas flow more freely in a group setting, or do you achieve your best work solo?

Lastly, consider the type of lifestyle you’d like your next job to supplement. Are you willing to be on-call 24 hours a day, or are you hoping to punch the clock at five p.m.?

There’s a variety of cultural factors to consider when deciding what matters most to you. Think about what you hope your next office culture will value, including:

  • work-life balance
  • flexible hours
  • recognition
  • diversity
  • personal development
  • growth opportunity
  • community engagement
  • innovation
  • focus
  • fun
  • collaboration
  • stability
  • autonomy
  • competitive salary
  • access to leadership

Make a list of the top 10 factors that you’d have in your ideal work environment, and note the aspects you’re not willing to compromise on in your next role—these are your deal breakers.

Conduct Company Research

We’re always recommending this but that’s because it’s really important. By researching the company you should find out more than just

To get a sense of a company’s culture and core values, first check out their company website, including career pages, mission statement, and the “About Us” section. Pay attention to the types of language they use, pictures they include, and the creative (or standard) titles they use to describe themselves. This can give you an initial sense of how the company wants to portray itself to the outside world. Taking a look at the company’s social media presence—or lack thereof—can help you deduce the company’s level of employee and community engagement, as well as their overall tone.

Visit sites like Glassdoor to see how the employee reviews stack up against the company’s self-image. No hiring manager is going to reveal that the company lacks diversity or the unlimited sick time policy is internally discouraged, but an anonymous employee will.

Employee feedback can give you first-hand insight into what it’s like to work at a company, but don’t forget to take these subjective employee testimonials with a grain of salt. While their opinions can add context to your overall understanding of the company’s culture, since people tend to leave more negative reviews than positive ones, you may come across a former or current employee whose advice is more resentful than constructive.

You can also reach out to present and former employees on LinkedIn. Whether they want to brag about their place of work or just complain to the nearest person willing to listen, most people will be willing to share some insight into their company’s culture. Even a few politely phrased questions can help you glean insights into team norms and habits that you won’t find in the HR handbook.

If you’re not sure what to ask current or former employees, start with these three questions:

Would you recommend working at your company to a good friend? Why or why not?

What types of people are most likely to succeed in this environment? Why?

What would you say are the biggest pros and cons of the current company culture?

Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open During the Hiring Process

Throughout the hiring process, use your time in the lobby to your advantage. Pay attention to what you see and hear around you, taking note of how people are working. Is it quiet? Bustling with energy? Is everyone friendly, or do their conversations lean toward quiet professionalism? Are people milling about and working collaboratively in conference rooms, or are they sitting in cubes working independently?

As you walk through the halls, take note of visual cues around the office that can reveal the organization’s personality. You can expect a vastly different culture from a company whose bulletin boards boast quarterly numbers and company deadlines than one whose walls are littered with pictures from the latest company dodgeball tournament.

You’re once again only viewing a small piece of the puzzle, so try not to draw conclusions from this single set of observations. You can, however, get a general sense of the office’s formality or lack thereof. Consider if the office is somewhere you can see yourself fitting into and enjoying.

Ask The Right Questions

During the interview, make sure to ask insightful, nuanced questions beyond: “Describe the office culture.” Asking the right questions will give you a clear picture of the organizational environment you’ll be stepping into.

Instead of asking, “Would you describe the culture as collaborative?”—a question most hiring managers would answer “yes” to—ask the hiring manager how often the staff members meet as a team to get a better sense of the amount of time employees actually spend collaborating on projects.

Be sure to ask for concrete examples to ascertain whether the listed benefits are actually something employees are actively encouraged to utilize on a regular basis. If you’re hoping to take advantage of the career growth opportunities they advertise, for example, ask the interviewer to describe the career path of someone who took the role five years ago.

Here are other examples of discerning questions that can help you gauge the value the company places on:

Transparency and communication: “When and how do team members give feedback to one another?” or “Can you tell me more about your process for giving and receiving feedback?”

Autonomy: “What kinds of projects would a person in my position be able to own from beginning to end?”

Openness to new ideas and innovation: “Can you give an example of a time that someone in my role made a suggestion that was later implemented?”

Reflect and Decide

Take the time to assemble all of the information and observations you’ve made throughout the hiring process into a cohesive picture, and think about the aspects of the culture that make you absolutely want (or not want) to work at that organization. Think back to your deal breakers—the cultural values you said would be non-negotiable in your next role—and make sure the prospective job passes the test. As much as it might be tough to skip over what looks like a sound offer, recognize that day-in and day-out, you could be working in an environment that holds values contrary to yours.

No matter the environment, there will be times in any company culture you’ll face challenges and experience some doubt. But by working for a company whose overall values and core beliefs align with yours, you’ll be more likely to have long-term satisfaction.

It all boils down to identifying your personality, their personality and seeing if your core values match up. This is the key for success in that company.

Here are some questions that will help you assess whether or not a company is the right fit for you?

  • What type of culture do you thrive in?
  • What values are you drawn to and what’s your ideal workplace?
  • Why do you want to work there?
  • How would you describe the culture based on what you’ve seen? Is this something that works for you?
  • What best practices would you bring with you from another company?
  • Do you see yourself being able to implement these best practices in the new environment?
  • Remember a time where there wasn’t a good culture fit, Why was it a bad fit? What would you change?

Fit Makes A Strong Team

Even for jobs that aren’t heavily customer-facing, personality can be the difference between a successful working environment and one where employees are unhappy or hostile toward each other.

Company culture is a powerful driver of business success. It is the key to employee engagement, performance and productivity. Employees who identify more with their company are happier, experience greater job satisfaction, are more committed, perform better and are more likely to stay with their organisation. That is why cultural fit is important.

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