How to get people who are both: Culture fit and add?

Culture add vs. culture fit 

Nowadays people focus more on culture add rather than culture fit, which is great because this way you’ll avoid creating too homogeneous teams. When chatting with potential candidates, it’s still important to figure out what kind of culture they come from, what they are used to and what they can adapt to. 

We usually tend to focus on ways of working, reactions to different situations, adaptability, hierarchy preferences, values, decision-making, and team working style. It’s not that you need to have a scale from 1 to 10 of each of these items, but at least some sort of an idea if the candidate will fit the aspects that are pretty much an integral part of your culture, such as values and level of hierarchy. And on the other hand, it is a great plus if the person is an add with some of the softer sides, such as having different kinds of ways of working, thinking and communicating compared to other team members. 

To use an example, if you chat with a person who didn’t even once talk about the team members he has been building products with, only on what he has personally achieved, it might make sense to dig deeper. If you are a company of individual contributors, they may be a great fit, however, if you are a startup where communication and close teamwork is essential, this could be a critical topic.

Defining who you are and what you are looking for

When you start thinking about culture fit, it’s best to start by thinking, what are those characteristics that you want to keep and what are the parts of your culture the next talent will have to be able to adapt to. What describes your company the best? Are you self-driven, innovative and honest? How does that show in your everyday work, are there examples? Are there some specific qualities/personality traits you’re looking for?

These can be values or just adjectives that describe you and your organisational culture. If you want to tell the world about your culture (e.g. on your website), we advise avoiding the usual cliché values such as flexibility and courage. What makes you “you”? Something unique that is hard to copy. It can be sentences instead of just words.

When it comes to culture add, think of what new this person will bring you – both skills and personality. Does the candidate have to match to all your values or can he/she bring something new?

Then you can think of what are the flexible parts of your organization and are there even some attributes that would benefit from a bit of change? And even if the change seems a bit too strong of a word, take a hard look at your recent ideas and think – are there really any that are completely out of the box? Thinking about culture add can greatly increase the diversity of thoughts and therefore make your team more innovative.

Communicating your Culture

With all the recruitment steps it’s good to think of the added value. You’ll get more insights on the candidates’ culture fit/add and you’ll build mutual trust being open about your culture. What the candidate should get is that same trust but also a feeling if this culture is what they want. With culture, your company has to try to be as honest as possible! People can always tell if you’re building castles in the air to make the organization sound better than it really is.