Does Cultural Fit Really Make a Difference in Hiring?

Cultural fit seems to be the big business buzzword right now. But as demand steadily heats up in every industry, and candidates become harder to find and even harder to retain, does cultural fit really make a difference in hiring?

It’s a concept that challenges the status quo. For generations, workers have been hiring based solely on their skill sets and experience level. While those things are still essential, it has become increasingly evident that some of the most common reasons people leave a position are conflicts with bosses or coworkers, negative work environments, and lack of employee engagement or recognition. These are vital elements of workplace culture, and when they turn toxic or virtually nonexistent, cultural fit is near impossible.

While anyone with the right skill set and experience level might be able to competently fulfill your job requirements, it definitely takes the right type of person to collaborate as a team, take initiative to help grow the business, and strive for self-improvement on the job. Ultimately, we’ve found that hiring for cultural fit is a strategy that helps take your business to the next level.

So how do we make sure we’re hiring with cultural fit in mind?

Step One: Look at Current High Performers

Think about the few people in your company who have really made a difference. These are the ones who have not only been around the longest but have made the most contributions and helped others to do the same. They’re highly productive and efficient but also aware of the big picture, including your business goals, other staff members, and missed opportunities.

What personality traits and qualities do those people possess in your workplace? Are they outgoing or introverted? Logical or empathetic? Future-focused or detail-oriented? Does your company mission statement reflect the qualities of your high performers? Do your leaders agree? Would your workplace benefit from a mix of personality traits or a collection of very similar ones?

Only once you know what already works can you figure out which job candidates will have the cultural fit to help your business grow while simultaneously improving employee retention.

Step Two: Take Your Interview to the Next Level

It’s easy to focus on skills and past experience in the interview. After all, those are the key components required to fulfill the job responsibilities. However, interviewing for cultural fit takes a different set of questions – and it goes further than simply asking, “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”

Interview questions that reveal cultural fit might look like the following:

  • What is your motivation to wake up every day to come to work?
  • How do you tackle new challenges?
  • How do you react when things go wrong?
  • What is your ideal work environment?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • What did you enjoy most about your previous job?
  • How would you describe your relationship with your previous boss?

Answers to questions like these will reflect how a candidate’s personality traits and attitude are portrayed in the workplace.

Step Three: Pay Attention to What Questions They Ask You

The interview is a two-way conversation, and you’ll probably learn more about a candidate’s cultural fit from the questions they ask you than their answers to your questions. They should be just as concerned about fitting in as you are. After all, they’ll be a spending a third of each day working for you; they don’t want to wake up dreading coming to work.

Do their questions get deeper than simple queries about hours, benefits, and wages? Listen to what they’re asking about your company, the work environment, and the people they’ll be working with. Find out if they’re curious about the company’s future and about how their role will evolve over time. The best candidates want more than just a job; they want something that resembles a fulfilling career path, that uses their skills and talents and gives them the opportunity to grow and fulfill their goals.

Step Four: Get Them in Front of Your Team

Sometimes the best way to determine a candidate’s cultural fit is simply to get them out of the confining parameters of the interview. Introduce them to your team and get the conversation flowing. This should help them get over any interview nerves while also letting their personality shine a little more.

Even if they’re introverted, their interactions should give you some insight into how well they gel in your work environment. Do they look comfortable and at home? Are they eager to see and learn more? Are they asking your staff members questions?


Ultimately, you need to find a good balance between cultural fit and hard skills. Your company is unique, which means there is no one-size-fits-all formula. At JDP Search, we work closely with our clients to determine exactly what kind of candidate will perform the best in the position and in the work environment. We carefully interview those candidates to ensure we’re making the perfect match. Let us help you out today.