Making the move from culture fit to culture add
How to reduce bias and find a culture add when interviewing candidates.
In theory, hiring for culture fit sounds like a good idea. In practice, it often leads to affinity bias, with interviewers favoring candidates similar to themselves. That’s why many companies are now looking for people who can add to and expand their culture.
What is affinity bias?
Affinity bias is the tendency to have a preference for people like ourselves. In hiring, affinity bias can mean leaning toward one candidate over another because they have a relatable background, belief, or appearance.
What is the difference between culture add and culture fit?
A candidate who is a culture add is someone who not only aligns with your values, but also brings new skills and perspectives to the table.
Challenges with hiring for culture fit
While hiring for culture fit is intended to preserve company culture and ensure teammates click, it may actually do more harm than good. Without bringing in candidates with different perspectives, your culture can’t evolve.
Teams can become homogeneous, limiting innovation.
When team members come from similar backgrounds, they may think the same way, making it harder to approach problems from different angles.
Affinity bias can hold back the diversity of teams.
When teams lack diversity, gravitating toward people similar to themselves may put underrepresented candidates at a disadvantage.
Interviewers can interpret culture fit differently.
Without aligning on what they actually mean by “culture fit,” some interviewers may use it as an arbitrary reason to rule candidates out.
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Defining and identifying top talent
To identify qualified candidates whose talents will complement your team, it’s important for interviewers to be thoughtful and intentional about the criteria assessed. An inclusive approach will help you find people who will make your culture stronger.
Abandon the “beer test” when assessing candidates.
In the past, interviewers often considered whether they’d want to get a beer with a person. But this doesn’t reflect a candidate’s ability to do the job.
Get clear with your team about assessment criteria.
Use a scorecard to ensure interviewers are assessing candidates on the same criteria — not on personality traits unrelated to the job.
Focus on alignment with your mission and values.
Ask candidates to share their thoughts on your mission and core values to assess both their preparedness and alignment.
HR professionals say the #1 benefit of workplace diversity is improved employee engagement and satisfaction.
Keep an open mind when candidates don't fit the mold.
Don't rule out people with different backgrounds or viewpoints than the rest of the team. Ask yourself whether this might be an asset.
Dig deeper when interviewers cite culture fit.
If an interviewer mentions a candidate isn't a good culture fit, ask them to provide specific details and examples.
Create a culture of accountability in your hiring team.
Interrogate your reasoning before making any final decisions, and encourage your team to hold each other accountable.
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