If you don't line up well with the company’s way of thinking, doing business and your supervisors expectational values, it will be very difficult to develop successful working relationships with those you work with and those around you, whether or not, you can excel in the job.
You can also learn a lot from doing some research on the company and finding out how management at the company treats the employees who leave or are asked to leave?
- How do they show them the door?
- How do they talk about them when they are gone?
- Do they quickly staff up and then as quickly staff down?
- Does an employee quickly go from being a ‘valued partner’ to one who ‘never really cut it’, ‘never really fit in’, whom the company is ‘better off without’ or the guy we were about to fire anyway’?
- Do they refer to themselves as leadership and others as staff?
Many companies are starting to consciously look at cultural fit during the hiring process. They are doing this because the risk of a potential mismatch between you and the values of the company can be quite expensive for all parties involved if something doesn’t work out.
Although you may look like the perfect fit on your resume with all the right skills and experience the company is looking for, if you as a candidate do not have the required behavioral and personality traits to fit in with the team and the company’s personality, the employment marriage will surely end in a quickie divorce.
What is Cultural Fit?
According to Dictionary.com the word “culture” is defined as “The total range of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions which are transmitted and reinforced by members of the group.”
Culture is also further defined in the business literature as the workplace environment which is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by senior management of the company. It is also the behavior that results when a group of employees arrive at a set of generally unspoken and unwritten rules for working together.
“Fit”, on the other hand, is defined by Dictionary.com as “adapted or suited” for the subject at hand. “Job fit” also refers to the degree to which the candidate’s skills and experience are relevant to the job and the degree to which the potential hire finds the position’s activities and responsibilities rewarding and fulfilling.
In other words, you are considered a cultural fit if you can, in addition to performing your job well, contribute faster to the company than another potential candidate for the same position.
Clues to a company’s culture
Some companies are starting to provide information about themselves and their culture in their position postings. The hope is that applicants will self-screen out when they see keywords that don't support their job values or lifestyles.
For example, someone looking for a 40-hour week will likely take a pass if the posting says the position indicates longer than usual hours, while a candidate who enjoys a team environment may pass over a position that requires telecommuting from home for example.
What do interviewers look for to see if you are a good cultural fit?
During the interview process, interviewers may consciously, but more likely unconsciously, look for your:
- How likely is it you will get along with others in the department, your manager and senior management personnel?
- What is your work ethic, level of formality with others and your team orientation?
In other words will you take your job seriously and be willing to make the commitment in the department to be a success with your new company.
- Are you a clock-watcher who wants to bolt at quitting time or will you have the dedication and flexibility to stay that extra bit longer to finish the job you are working on so it will not linger over to the next day?
- If there are major overtime requirements, will you be able to meet them?
Personality is hard to quantify in an interview. However, interviewers may be looking to see if you:
- Will be assertive when needed
- Are a good communicator.
- Are helpful to others.
- Can contribute creative and innovative solutions to tough problems.
- Are a people person with whom others would want to work?
What’s the best way to show you are a good cultural fit?
- Be prepared to answer questions about your personality and work environment preferences.
- Be familiar with the company by printing and reading everything you can about them from their website, press releases and from contacts you may have on the inside of the company.
- During the interview, weave some of what you have learned into the answers to your interview questions; this will show you are a good cultural fit.
What can you do?
Start by checking ‘references’ on as many people you can with whom you interviewed with. If you asked for their business cards during the interview you will have enough information to get started.
- Google their names and see what comes up.
- Check LinkedIn and read their profiles
- See who in your network might have contacts who have worked in or with the company now or in the past to flesh out your understanding of their corporate culture.