Should You Hire Employees Who “Fit” Your Culture?

The concept of “cultural fit” is a trendy one these days. But, is hiring for “fit” a good idea?

In 1999 I wrote an article for HR Magazine on hiring to fit your corporate culture. My thesis at the time was that doing so was a “slippery slope” in terms of ensuring non-discriminatory hiring practices. After all, the concept of culture does bump up against issues of socioeconomic status, race, religion, sexual preference, etc., etc.

But, as always, I learned a lot in writing that article and I’ve seen it play out in other organizations. “Culture” can mean a lot of different things to different people. In some organizations it can allow the “old guard” to resist needed change. In others it can become a “politically correct” way to discount or dismiss employees with different opinions.

There’s danger in that.

I think the answer to the question of “should you hire employees who ‘fit’ your culture?,” as in so much of the work I do, is “it depends.”

If your organization is high-performing, meeting or exceeding its goals, attracting new customers, experiencing appropriately low turnover among staff, and not facing any imminent environmental changes that could be disruptive, then it’s quite possible that continuing to hire those who mirror the staff you currently have and share their values, opinions, etc., is good.

If the converse of the items above is true, however, then you should seriously be considering the need to change your culture, because that old aphorism is abundently true: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got.”

When your results need to change it’s extremely likely that your culture does too.

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