Why You Should Stop Hiring for Culture Fit – and Start Hiring for Culture Add | Markle
Why You Should Stop Hiring for Culture Fit – and Start Hiring for Culture Add | Markle

Why You Should Stop Hiring for Culture Fit – and Start Hiring for Culture Add

February 6, 2023 - Written By Markle | Blog Archive


In the past three years, diversity, equity, and inclusion has seen significant new momentum from private sector companies seeking to build diverse teams, which have been shown to bring significant financial benefits and lead to greater employee satisfaction. Plus, by breaking up workplace homogeneity, you minimize the risk of groupthink, which stifles ingenuity.

One common barrier to increasing organizational diversity includes what are often referred to as “culture fit” questions. Questions like: “What do you like to do for fun?” “Tell me about yourself.” At first blush, these questions make sense: you want someone who will get along with the rest of the team and who will laugh at the right jokes and is a match to your own tone.

But there’s danger inherent in culture fit questions: it can encourage teams to hire people who enjoy the same hobbies and who come from the same backgrounds, have had a similar life, and cultural experience, excluding people from different backgrounds who have the skills to flourish in a role.

How can hiring managers find people who will add value to their team without being exclusionary?

Skills-based practices, which focus on the skills or abilities a person needs to succeed in a role, can help. These practices rely on the skills a candidate has or the skills a candidate can learn, rather than proxies for skills like degrees, previous titles, and background. By focusing on skills, hiring managers also decrease their conscious and unconscious biases. That’s why the Skillful Talent Series training, developed by Markle’s Rework America Alliance initiative, employers to implement skills-based talent management practices, and replace the request for culture fit with “culture add.”

When hiring is based on what the person might add to a workplace, it becomes more inclusive as it acknowledges that someone coming from a different background can be a positive addition to the team. Changing your interview process to be more inclusive does not mean that you’re compromising the values of your organization (like a commitment to customer service, transparency, etc.). Rather, a focus on culture add opens your talent pool to people with different cultural backgrounds who can expand your organization’s understanding and perspective.

Focus on understanding what motivates your candidates and how their purpose is aligned with your organizational purpose. When hiring, add ask questions tied to your organizational values and business principles. Here are a few examples of what culture-add questions look like:

  • Describe a time when you had to decide between two or more possible choices that would have a significant impact on the outcome. How did you land on a final decision?
  • When have you experienced an unexpected problem during the course of a project? How did you react?
  • Describe a time when conflict arose between members of a team you were managing. How did you handle this situation? In this position, you will be managing teams that work on different pieces of a larger project. What strategies did you learn previously that you will use to resolve conflict between teams?

Remember: the next time you hire someone checking your unconscious biases is key to hiring the best person for the position. Think about what candidates can bring to the table and whether the questions you are asking are inadvertently excluding great talent from your company.


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