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Why companies should embrace individuality with less culture fit and more culture add  

3min read

Over the years, culture fit has been named a controversial hiring strategy as it negatively affects diversity and inclusion. Facebook even banned the term ‘culture fit’ because it’s loaded with bias. Yet, many hiring managers still fall into the trap of assessing people too much on their personal characteristics, asking ‘are they like me and the team’ over acknowledging what that person can bring to the company.  

 Understanding the importance of culture add, HappyHQ explores the damage culture fit can bring, the positive impact of culture add, and how we can embed a culture add mindset into the hiring process.  

Explain how culture fit can go rogue during the interview process?  

Picture this: A candidate gets through to the final stage of the interview process for their dream job – they are passionate, have relevant experience, a great attitude, and a brilliant work ethic. They are turned down for the job. The reason given? ‘They just didn’t seem like the best culture fit.’ 

  So, what just happened?  

  • From the hiring manager’s perspective, they are assessing someone on how well they ‘fit’ into the current company. They might ask themselves questions like: “Are they like me or the team? Do we have the same interests? Do we have lots in common? Will they enjoy the free company yoga we offer? Will they gel well together with the team? Would I want to sit next to this person at a company event? Do I connect with them personally?” 
  • From a candidate’s perspective, the company may have wrongly assessed someone on how well they will ‘fit’ in as opposed to what they can ‘add to the culture’.  They are not seeing what the candidate could bring or add to the company that is different from everyone else. The candidate is left feeling as though they should mould themselves to ‘fit in’ with a company and the team, instead of staying true to themselves. 


Why is it important to look for ways to add to culture?  

People from all sorts of backgrounds with differing personalities and experiences can bring a variety of new thinking, experiences, and ideas to help push boundaries, think freely, and positively disrupt the way things are done. Culture add hires can help companies improve and reach bigger goals. 

Diverse opinions and beliefs are also important for business success because they prevent the psychological phenomenon, groupthink, from occurring. High-performing teams are meant to bring a diverse range of skills and ideas. People from all sorts of backgrounds with differing personalities and experiences can still be aligned on core values, yet also bring a variety of new thinking and experiences to prevent complacency.  

 How can companies put culture add into practice?  

Start by having conversations on how you are defining it at an all-company level. Proper feedback and measurement can also help determine if employees understand the value in hiring for ‘culture add.’ Once determined, practical strategies and tools, such as internal bias and assumption training, and working with hiring managers or recruiters to re-think the interview process will help embed positive changes.     

To help companies prioritise values-based recruitment methods, HapppyHQ’s ‘Values in Action’ workshop helps identify, define, or shape existing company values so they can be embedded into the hiring process and beyond.  

How can we prevent culture fit from influencing interview outcomes?  

Ask behavioural questions that assure all voices, opinions or ideas can be heard, for example, what is your impression of our company’s culture, values, and mission? How do you think we could improve? If given the choice of any role here, what job would appeal to you the most and why?   

In summary, unlike culture fit, culture add is the more integrated approach to evaluating candidates on how well they will shape and add to the current culture. By removing the term culture fit from the hiring process, companies can start to embrace individuality, and create a more diverse and inclusive culture.  

HappyHQ helps companies easily measure, plan, and celebrate people-first company cultures. To find out more, visit happyhq.co.uk