Turn Culture Fit Into Culture Add

A happy job candidate smiles during her culture-add interview, seeing as it's more inclusive than the traditional culture-fit.

Culture-Fit Interviews Are Exclusionary

The Merriam-Webster definition of “fit” is “acceptable from a particular viewpoint.” By nature, it’s an exclusionary word, which is why many forward-thinking organizations are beginning to evolve the once trendy culture-fit interview. 

While culture-fit interviews started with good intentions, “What most people mean by culture fit, is hiring people they’d like to have a beer with,” said Patty McCord, ex-Chief Talent Officer at Netflix. McCord isn’t wrong. 

Paul Spiegelman, a Forbes contributor, took this further. “Many companies that believe they are hiring for culture fit are actually just hiring people they identify and ‘click’ with. When a candidate shares a particular trait, background, or life experience with the hiring manager — think a common sports team or hometown — they mistake alignment between themselves and the candidate for alignment between the candidate and the organization. That’s when culture fit becomes controversial,” Spiegelman wrote in an article titled Is Hiring for Culture Fit Perpetuating Bias?

However, Cultural Alignment is Important

While “culture fit” is often just a smokescreen for bias, it makes sense why organizations wanted a way to incorporate company culture into recruiting. Studies show that company culture is the top driver of engagement and turnover intent—when employees feel connected to their place of work, they’re more engaged and less likely to quit. 

While “culture fit” may be misguided, cultural alignment is still important. HiringThing is fully remote. We have no central office, and everyone works from wherever they choose. Someone who values daily in-person experiences wouldn’t be successful here (even if they were someone we’d want to grab a beer with!).  

Cultural alignment is crucial, but we need to assess alignment in an inclusive, impartial, and ideally data-driven way. Enter the “cultural-add” approach to recruiting.

Culture-Add Interviews are Inclusive

We’ve eliminated the bias of the culture-fit interview while still ensuring that our future coworkers are aligned with our mission and values by introducing a “culture add” mindset to our interview process.

We didn’t want to risk hiring people based on inherent biases, wanted to continue our mission of diversifying the HiringThing workforce, and still wanted to honor the company culture we’ve worked hard to cultivate (and give it room to grow in meaningful ways). When we do a culture add, we’re not looking for coworker candidates with the same shared interests or lived experiences, but rather:

  • A shared enthusiasm for the company’s mission and values. 
  • Common approaches to working together. 
  • Mutual understanding of how we interact with and treat our coworkers. 

Experiences, viewpoints, and ideas an individual possesses that could evolve or enhance the things that make our workplace unique.

Tips for Switching From Culture-Fit to Culture-Add

Change Your Mindset

Everyone at your organization must adopt an “add” vs. “fit” mindset. Don’t worry about “gelling” or “fitting in.” We want everyone involved in all parts of the recruitment process to envision how each candidate can strengthen, challenge, or add to our success. 

Standardize Your Processes

Standardizing the interview process allows organizations to compare candidate submissions, answers, or insights. If you’re judging candidates on the same criteria, it leaves less room for the feelings or gut instincts where biases thrive. 

Structure makes the process more objective, removing the emotions from a decision. Regulating your hiring process through question standardization, blind resumes or interviews, skills assessments, and group interviews helps all recruitment stakeholders focus on the strengths a candidate can bring to the role, not what someone likes about them. 

Be Strength-Based

For too long, recruiting focused on candidates having to prove themselves versus celebrating how a candidate could contribute. Strength-based interviewing doesn’t focus on what candidates lack but instead on what they can bring to your company. This especially gives candidates with diverse backgrounds an equal advantage.

An example of strength-based interviewing would be to have a candidate list five skills or experiences they have that would help propel the company forward.

Be Mission/Value Minded

We have an official “culture add” portion of our recruiting process. This group-style interview has candidates meet with a selection of current employees. It’s informal, and candidates are often asked about interests, hobbies outside of work, and past positive experiences. However, this is done through the lens of shared mission and values. 

For example, we value transparency and data-driven decisions here at HiringThing. Therefore, a manager who doesn’t like to share with their team or a “disruptor” who always “goes with their gut” probably wouldn’t align with our values or the way we work. Conversely, new ideas, workflows, policies, meaningful conversations, or new ways to collaborate are welcome.

Recruit From Outside Your "Normal" Pools

Don’t allow arbitrary parameters to limit who can add to your workplace culture. Revisit your degree requirements, recruit from outside your field, don’t penalize people for gaps in their resumes, and treat “that’s an interesting background” as a positive and not a negative. If you keep hiring the same people from the same places, even if it is working, you’re not truly committed to the ethos of the culture add, just the culture upkeep.

What We've Added to the HiringThing Culture

Since adding to and strengthening the culture here at HiringThing is so important, we reached out to the HiringThing team to see what they feel they, or others, have added to our workplace. 

“My open and direct communication and my leadership strengths of empowerment and building trust,” said Noël Phillips, Director of Partner Success (Noël added that the HiringThing value of “transparency” was the one that most aligned with her values). 

“I feel like my creative thinking and background in design have contributed to thoughtful team discussions and different perspectives on approaching challenges,” Shana Thoreson,Channel Partner Marketer, told us. “The HiringThing value that most resonated with me during my job search is that it is a remote-first company that supports and promotes work/life balance—since joining the team, I’ve been very happy to see those aren’t just words. This company has truly fostered and supported my wellbeing..”

“I’ve been impressed with Lindsey, one of our Product Managers, “ our Marketing Director Joanna Campa said. “She is meticulous in her communication and performance. She's a model of caring and efficiency that is valued and appreciated throughout our company.”

“Our most important asset here at HiringThing is our people,” added COO Jess Tejani. “Why wouldn’t we expect them to positively impact, not just fit into, our culture?” 

Do you think you could positively impact the culture here at HiringThing? Check out our open positions: 


Related Resources

About HiringThing

HiringThing is a modern recruiting platform as a service that creates seamless hiring experiences. Our private label applicant tracking system and open API enable technology and service providers to embed hiring capabilities from sourcing to onboarding. Approachable and adaptable, the platform empowers anyone, anywhere, to hire their dream team.

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