Does a Job Candidate Fit Your Company’s Culture?

Earlier this year, we wrote about how defining company culture means examining employees, identifying a mission, experiencing the work environment, reviewing compensation, and studying your customers. The next step to take is to apply this same respect for the issue during the interviewing process.

Is this a good cultural fit?
Whether your company uses in-house HR, recruiting firm, or a staffing company to handle the hiring process, it’s important to make sure the candidate you hire fits your company culture. You know that old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” But often when interviewing job candidates, we’re more likely to hire the one with more experience and an impressive résumé than the one who best fits the company’s culture.

That, in part, is why we’re seeing an increase in employee turnover. It is also a sign that we’re having a hard time engaging employees. Sometimes the issue isn’t leadership, but rather those particular employees don’t fit the culture of the company.

How to determine if the candidate fits
Character. Language. Values. Beliefs. Outlook. Does the person embody what the company stands for? A company’s core values can have more impact on the internal culture than a specific mission statement. If the company wants to be direct yet personable, the candidate needs to exuberate those characteristics by having great communication skills. If a company values its production overall, then the candidate doesn’t have to have great soft skills but needs to be driven and work oriented. These are items that need to be brought up in the interview.

Present the company’s core values to the candidate and ask how the candidate fits in. Since most individuals will say anything to simply be hired, ask the candidate which parts he or she struggles with. Honesty and communication should be in every office culture, so seeing how the person reacts and handles themselves will provide great insight into whether or not it’s a good fit.

The candidate outside the résumé
Another way to see if a person will fit with your team is to have them meet other employees. Sometimes interviewees are nervous and find themselves acting different in the hiring process. But if you provide time for the person to interact with other employees without management around, you may find them loosening up. Obviously, they may still be “on,” but at least you can find out how they would fit with your other team members.

Understanding the importance of cultural fit is the first step in creating a long-lasting foundation for success. When interviewing a person for a position, ask yourself how this person would fit in with your team, what role he or she will play, and will this person help us reach our company goals? The hardest thing is to define your company’s culture, the easiest thing is to hire someone who doesn’t fit in it.

5 Responses to Does a Job Candidate Fit Your Company’s Culture?

  1. Russell Cullingworth May 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Dear James, I enjoyed your article but would like to suggest a different way of thinking about job candidates and their fit with corporate culture.

    Through my research and teaching, I have realized that cultures that are “exclusive” of those that do not “fit” tend to have some significant weaknesses inherent in a group that all thinks and acts the same way.

    For example, consider the culture of an accounting firm – serious, intellectual, formal – great for getting the work done but perhaps lacking passion and the people skills needed to build strong relationships with clients. Similarly, consider a flamboyant and passionate sales team that has enthusiasm and people skills, but lacks the discipline to maintain accurate customer data and to take care of the details. (perhaps you have noticed that there is a psychological basis to these attributes).

    Cultures that are too similar have similar strengths, but this also compounds the weaknesses and blind spots of the team or organization, leading to problems such as group-think and gaps in effectiveness.

    I have come to believe that everyone should NOT be the same and the culture needs to adjust to value and respect the strengths that others bring which may be OUTSIDE the culture, thereby strengthening and balancing the strengths and weaknesses of the culture and developing what we call “a culture of excellence”.

    Regards, Russell Cullingworth

    • Daisy Wright May 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm #


      You hit the nail on the head! This is what I would describe as ‘Corporate Sameness’.

      When everyone thinks alike, it’s no different than one person. However, if they think differently, they spark off each other and problems are solved faster.

      Hello there Heather! Nice to see you here.

      I agree with you, except that because of possible legal wranglings, checking a candidate’s social media accounts might come back to haunt the employer.

      James, appreciate the article. It’s always good to read different perspectives on ‘corporate fit’
      Just a couple of thoughts!

  2. Heather R. Huhman May 23, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Great post! Another way HR professionals can assess candidates includes running a quick Google search and checking out their social media accounts. A candidate’s Twitter and Facebook say a lot about their professionalism, as well as what they think about–a huge indicator of how they’ll fit in with the company culture. Another thing to look for is the candidate’s personal blog, so you can see if their values, ideals, and interests match up with those of your organization.


  1. The Proper Role for Years of Service Programs - RecognizeThis! Blog - June 11, 2012

    […] acknowledged. But far more benefit can be derived from a truly strategic recognition program, the five characteristics of which are described by the Great Place to Work® Institute […]

  2. The Proper Role for Years of Service Programs - DerekIrvineGloboforce - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR - June 12, 2012

    […] acknowledged. But far more benefit can be derived from a truly strategic recognition program, the five characteristics of which are described by the Great Place to Work® Institute […]

Leave a Reply