“Culture fit” makes all the difference when recruiting

Recruit for culture fit- hands-on-human-resources

Competency based interviewing does prove valuable in drawing out the required competencies, consideration for the soft skills, such as communication, creativity and emotional intelligence- personal qualities play a critical role in a potential employee’s ability to succeed are equally as important, and the most critical factor being “culture fit”. Research increasingly shows that hiring people for “cultural fit,” or seeking out individuals who align with your company’s unique culture and values, is an essential part of effective, strategic hiring. A study found that 84% of recruiters surveyed agree that cultural fit, is one of the most important recruitment factors, and 9 out of 10 have reported passing on applicants who didn’t feel aligned with their companies’ cultures which supports our opinion on the subject.

What is “culture fit”?

Cultural fit is the way in which an employee connects with the organisational culture. This culture is formed from the values, vision, norms, working language, symbols, belief systems and habits of staff, along with their tacit agreement to a set of acceptable behaviours.

When these elements are aligned, they create social cohesion, and a high level of social cohesion builds strength in the organisation.

Will the individual fit in with the culture of the organization, will they get along with their team members and management? You can train an employee to do things your way, the technical skills, to deliver the outcomes you set for them to achieve, unfortunately you cannot alter their values, habits and belief systems to make them and align with your culture.

The obvious solution is to look for candidates that fit both categories; possessing the skills required as well as fitting the culture, it is easier said than done I am afraid.

The Interview process

The interview process does not have to take place in a formal setting at a boardroom table, in fact we prefer to have a chat over a cup of coffee- even if it is a virtual coffee. This is a sure way to get to know the REAL person behind the CV. Further to this there are many assessment tools to use to determine whether the person will support the companies’ mission and vision and so you do not have to only rely on your “gut feeling” about a person.

Diversity is also a very important consideration,  you don’t want to accidentally build a team of people who all think, look and act the exact same way either, so be sure to assess the team dynamic to identify what knowledge, skills and attributes are lacking in the team dynamic to be sure of the most suitable talent to source.

The common questions we as HR Professionals traditionally trained to screen are exploring why the candidate was job hopping, noting if they prefer a corporate vs private employment, whether or not the individual is willing to work overtime (even if the role recruiting for is an office job working a typical 8 to 4) Where do you see yourself in 5 years? We understand this question is testing to see how ambitious the candidate is, how relevant are these questioning techniques in the new world of work which is ever-changing?

Problem solving, relationship building, prioritizing tasks, coping with work pressures and how the candidate responds to setbacks are important competencies to test.


  1. Why do you think your are suitable for the job?
  2. What value do you think you can add to the position and company?
  3. How do you spend your free time?
  4. How do your work responsibilities impact your private life?
  5. What are your expectations from an employer?
  6. What kind of working conditions are important to you?

If you do not match the right talent with the role your employee is most likely to be stressed, de-motivated and will exit the business on the first opportunity they get.

It may surprise you to know that surveys indicate that up to 74% of people are most likely to leave their jobs because they do not identify with their companies’ culture, which is quite a high percentage.

Turnover is costly, recruitment fees can be exorbitant, and training the candidate to get them up to speed with the way things work in your organisation takes time before you see return on your investment.

We appreciate the impact that this has on both parties and so work closely with our clients to ensure we have a good understanding of their culture and carry out personal assessments to ensure we target the “culture fit” you require.

Sourcing with special care and professionalism for “the right fit” without breaking the bank.

Get in touch.

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Natalie Leach, CHRP, is the Founder and Director of Talent at Hands on Human Resources. She has gained a comprehensive understanding of people management from 25 years of experience in various sectors both in-house and HR Consulting. She is passionate about self-improvement and empowering people and organizations to thrive. Hands-on Human Resources offers Virtual HR and Talent sourcing services to South African SMEs. Send an e-mail to info@hohr.co.za to book a call.

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