What exactly is culture fit?

There’s one thing that companies look for that isn’t a skill and sometimes a source of contention: culture fit. Some even argue that this is a proxy to create an exclusive culture -- managers hire only people who look like them, talk like them, and come from the same background as them.

Some companies have switched the term “culture fit” for terms like “value alignment”. A fit should be aligned to values, not lifestyle, e.g. whether you value constructive criticism, not whether you go out to drink every Sunday afternoon.

For most big companies, because their culture is already established, one new employee is unlikely to change the office dynamic and culture fit boils down to whether you’re someone people would like to work with (e.g. you’re not an asshole, you’re not defensive, you’re a team player). For small organizations, culture fit is more important as companies want people who share their mission, drive, ethics, and work habits.

Value alignment is also about you evaluating whether this is a company you want to work for. Do you believe in their mission and vision? Are their current employees the type you want to be around? Will the company provide a good environment for you to grow? One candidate told me he turned down an offer after being invited to the company’s push-up competition. He didn’t feel like a culture that places so much importance on testosterone-filled activities would be a good fit for him.

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