Job Seekers: you need to know what recruiters say about Cultural Fit

I’ve been interviewing lately job seekers and recruiters alike, asking questions about the hiring process. Next I want to outline my findings on the topic of Cultural Fit when it comes to hiring people who are not for leadership positions.

First: what is cultural fit? To keep it super short – it is that sweet spot where your personal values fit/go together with the team values you will be working in. Some example of such values:

  • Personal value: I like to work goal oriented -> team value: we do not micromanage
  • Personal value: I like team work -> team value: we work collaboratively and like when people giving input
  • Personal value: I like to learn new things -> team value: learning on the job is expected

To exemplify the hiring process structure of a company, from my job seeker perspective, I super simplified structure is:

  • post job position
  • scan of received CVs
  • interview process
  • hiring offer

So where, in the above mentioned parts, does the company check the cultural fit?

From what I discovered, usually the earliest, cultural fit is checked at the (drum roll) – interview process

So why is this important for you to know and be aware of?

  1. Your SKILLS that you put on the CV are the ones that get you in the door and ONLY those! If there is an automatic process that scans the CVs, the personality is out the window. If a headhunter is handling your job offers, usually only the experienced head hunters (mostly hiring for high level positions) ALSO consider cultural fit.
  2. Your CV structure and the way you write talk about your cultural fit as well. These aspects are 100% checked by every hiring decision maker (once you manage to get them to see it). Typos show you do not care enough about the company.
  3. If anyone uses your picture, or name, or age, or any other such personal information on your CV to check cultural fit -> alert alert you are dealing with unconscious bias, privilege to the point of discrimination. They definitely are doing it WRONG!
  4. The company will ask you so called usual questions like: what is your perfect work environment? I mean I get it BUT can we agree that THESE types of questions are just plain BORING and maybe a more natural flowing conversation is more in the CULTURAL ADD trend? I mean, I personally make a difference between a good recruiting experience and a BAD one based on such questions!
  5. It is mega important that at the interview process you ask YOUR questions to check YOUR cultural fit expectations. And it is ok to ask:
    • Can I talk to an employee that does/has/is in your company? (especially if the people in the interview are not representative enough for you)
    • Do you offer shadowing for this role?
    • Is this a culture in which I can be flexible/mentored/informal/silly/funny/tattooed/be sometimes late to work/work in a quite place/wear only black/take unpaid leave/have pink hair/sporty/not drinking alcohol and so on…
    • Side note: maybe recruiters can even give the interviewee a list of such questions as preparation, so that I know it is ok to ask and I will not be judged or disqualified because of them! (I admit I do not ask candidly all of them because I fear I will be met with a “what you are late to work?” look. Taking about bringing my authentic self to work when I cannot even do that in the interview lol)

And for the go I want to leave you with a quote:

If someone is incompetent it is OK but

if someone is incompatible it is a disaster.

8 times more likely to achieve better business outcomes

Who does not want that?

EVERYONE wants that! And more:

  • twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets
  • three times as likely to be high-performing
  • six times as likely to be innovative and agile

How does a company achieve this, you may ask? SUPER simple!

By creating an inclusive environment.

And this is where the cookie crumbles!

  • “I do not know what inclusive means”
  • “It is not aligned with business goals”
  • “I do not believe this works”
  • “We do not have time for this right now”

It turns out is is not so hard! Like Marlow’s pyramid you need to start with the pyramid base and add until you reach the TOP. The good news is: it only has 3 steps.

Inclusive culture 3 steps

I worked in IT companies all my professional life (10 years) so here are my suggestions for IT companies:


  • Improve your Performance Interviews to be FAIR (actually helps drive equal pay)
    • fair means: have a worked out mathematical formula. It is not so important what that formula is as much as it is important that YOUR employees knowing there IS ONE!!! (it is a darn good start)


Only and only if you have worked out the previous point continue working on this one. Remember it is a pyramid.

  • Offer opportunities for different social activities, and NO, going to a beer is not inclusive and soooo not enough.
    • Have you tried: hiking, escape the room, beach volleyball, cooking, helping out at a shelter or volunteering together for a better cause? You get the point…
    • Do not be shy to invite also people from other departments! It really really really helps!


Only and only if you have worked out the previous point continue working on this one. Remember it is a pyramid.

If you think comfort and connection was hard to achieve, you better give up now.

  • Are employees really involved in your decisions?
    • Have you asked them what would be a good work from home guideline or did you just slap it on them?
    • Have you asked them if the interface makes any sense to a woman? How about a child? How about a visually impaired person?
    • Have you asked them what your company values mean to them? Do you even have any? (NO? perfect! you have the amazing opportunity to make them collaboratively! You have values already? Can you afford to change any or add?)
  • Do you value the people who drive your business?
    • Do you, as the CEO, ever compliment them on a small contribution (in person)?
    • Do you have a down to earth, real life (NOT about business) (ones will say VULNERABLE) conversation with your employees?
    • Do you ever talk about the purpose of a task? Do you listen when they struggle with motivation? Do they even TELL YOU?

These are just some ideas I know would have helped me stay in my work place. Anyway, the more simple ones.

Still skeptical I see… Don’t take my word for it!!! Please read the Deloitte Belonging article. Just hot off the press (15 May 2020).

Make time to understand the implications you read there! If you just plan to skim through then don’t bother.

“8 times more likely to achieve better business outcomes

I really really don’t believe it is so hard. The only reason why I think it is not implemented yet is: “the day to day business is simply done differently in my company”.

Disclosure: quotes are not quotes from people I know. They are just my left shoulder talking to the right shoulder, trying to argument both sides 🙂

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