Aligning values: how 'cultural fit' will make or break the perfect candidate


When we talk about fit in recruitment, don’t worry! No-one expects you to dust off the old gym kit just yet. Instead, when we talk about fit we generally mean one of two things – job fit and cultural fit.

Job fit describes the assessment of how well a candidate or prospective employee will be able to fulfil the requirements of a specific role. When we talk about job fit we mean the evaluation of a candidate’s skill set, previous experience and specific qualifications. This tends to be CV led prior to an interview and during an interview will likely focus on skill based questions. Sounds pretty standard, right?

So, where does cultural fit come into recruitment?

Cultural fit is a complex issue but ultimately it all boils down to how well a prospective employee’s attitude, temperament and values align with your organisation. It’s about more than their personality; it’s about how well set up they are to thrive in a particular environment.

The shift of cultural fit to a much higher position on a recruiter’s agenda has been noticeable over the last few years. This appears to be down to a shift in the attitude of candidates. Jobseekers are now actively searching for what differentiates a potential employer and what value an organisation can bring to their career path.

How to hire for cultural fit

A study on cultural fit conducted by development consultancy Cubiks in 2013 found 82% of 500 organisations said that measuring for cultural fit is now one of the most pressing factors in recruitment. That’s a pretty convincing testament to how important a measure cultural fit is becoming.

However, that’s not the whole story! The same study shows that only 32% of respondents actively measure cultural fit during the recruitment process. Perhaps most crucially, 59% of respondents said that they would dismiss a highly skilled employee if they didn’t settle well into their business’ culture.

The obvious question here is why there is such a large discrepancy in how people view cultural fit and how they actually screen for it. So, if it’s such a crucial part of a new hire’s success, why haven’t we been taking it more seriously? And, if so few people are actually assessing for cultural fit at interview, how do you start? Let’s take a look.

Keeping pace

The rate at which things change within a business is an amazingly important indicator of culture – are you a small, start-up that has to be reactive and adapt to new challenges on a daily basis? Or are you hiring within a larger, more stable organisation, with clearly defined processes and procedures?

One of the best ways to determine how well a candidate will fit in with your pace is to ask questions about how they approach challenges. Are they risk takers? Or do they take a more considered approach? Can they adapt to sudden developments? Their answer, while never being clearly right or wrong, will most certainly be an indicator of whether they can move at a pace needed to be successful for you.


Elaborating on the issue of cultural pace is the issue of adaptability. Has your candidate shown that they can achieve success by adapting to different circumstances and environments? You need to tease this information out of your interviewee because it will provide you with an insight into whether or not the person you are speaking with can grow into your organisation and eventually take on larger, more strategic roles.


A candidate’s personality will undoubtedly tell you how they will fit into your organisation. Does their work ethic suit your team? Are they reliable? Do they work better on their own or can they play with a team? All of these things matter because it’s an indication of how well they will integrate with the rest of your team and your business as a whole.

Probably the biggest mistake any hiring manager or recruiter can take is not taking cultural fit seriously. It can make or break even the most professionally qualified candidate. It is not simply a series of soft skills lumped together under one umbrella term. It is a crucial way of measuring your candidate’s ability to thrive in your business.

Here at FRS we have over 35 years of experience in recruitment in Ireland. We’ve seen trends come and go but we’re certain that the importance of cultural fit is here to stay. If you want to discover how to successfully screen for cultural fit, or if you want to have a chat about any of your recruitment needs, make sure you get in touch with one of our team.

Our years of experience mean that we have advice for any situation and will help you find top talent in your industry and make your organisation soar.

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