“You will fit in perfectly here” is a phrase that many of us will be familiar with hearing after receiving a new job. And while this is positive, it can make you wonder what employers really mean when they say an employee is a ‘good fit’.
Is a ‘good fit’ someone the interviewer feels they would get along with on a personal level? Someone who looks and sounds like they do? Or could it be someone who they think will blend seamlessly into the current team?
If such a small phrase raises this many questions, there is probably a hidden meaning behind these words.
To begin with, what do we mean by a ‘good fit’? For me, it is all about culture. Each organization has its own culture which is made up of common practices driven by its values and the working practices of their leaders and supervisors. This culture will have formed over time, and typically, a company will hire candidates that reflect their way of thinking and behaving. In other words, they are a ‘good fit’.
For example, research by Totaljobs found that 67% of employers saw a candidate’s cultural fit as ‘very important’, with one in five going as far as saying they would not hire a candidate if they were not the right cultural fit. However, the idea of maintaining a company’s culture could be the very thing holding it back.
Tara Ryan, the Director of People Experience at Monzo, pointed out that if you are trying to preserve your workplace culture, you are not giving it the opportunity to evolve. In short, the potential for business progression is being lost due to this rigid mindset.
Sure, employing people who ‘fit’ may help create a cosy camaraderie, but it will not necessarily bring anything new and innovative to the table to help your business increase its productivity and maintain a competitive advantage. Tapping into a wider range of attitudes and perspectives will enable you to push the boundaries of what you are trying to achieve and remain the preferred business partner to your clients.
So, rather than assessing if a potential hire is a culture fit, start assessing how they will be a culture add. What can this individual add to our culture to ensure we become irreplaceable to our clients?
While this approach is good in theory, it can be tougher in practice. Laura Rivera conducted a study for her book Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs which highlighted that only half of managers had a clear understanding of what their organizational culture was. In light of this, a shift to culture add can only be achieved by investing time in helping leaders understand what your company’s culture is, how it impacts business outcomes, and how hiring and leveraging a greater diversity of talent can strengthen it.