Qualifications and skills may get you to the interview, but they won’t get you hired. During the interview process, you’re often evaluated by more than skills alone, and ranked on cultural fit. Hiring managers are eager to see if you're a fit for their work environment, and someone they'd actually want to see and work with every day. Let’s take a look at a common scenario that occurs during the interview process. A company narrows down its pool of applicants to the top two candidates. The first candidate has a bachelor’s degree, five years of relevant experience, and interviews well with the team. Her personality is a great fit, she gets along with everyone really well, and has a similar working style to the team she would be joining. She is a bit underqualified for the position, but seems motivated and willing to learn. The second candidate has a bachelor’s degree and eight years of relevant experience. While his qualifications are superior in terms of experience, most everyone who interviews him thinks he’s a little “off” in terms of personality and views on how teams should be managed. While he could likely hit the ground running, there are concerns he wouldn’t mesh well his peers and wouldn’t be happy within their flat organization. Not surprisingly, candidate one—the cultural fit—gets picked nearly every time. Interviewers are human, and they want to hire someone who they can work with, day in and day out. Additionally, while you can teach skills through on-the-job training, you can’t expect to teach how to fit well into a company.
Cultural Fit: A Win-Win
Cultural fit is just as important for the job candidate as it is for the organization doing the hiring, since lack of fit is one of the top reasons people leave an organization or end up unhappy in their role. If you’re a good fit, chances are you’ll be more productive and stick around longer. This is why it’s necessary to find out as much as possible about the company culture before the interview. Places such as Glassdoor and company Websites are great research tools that can tell you a lot about company culture and core values. Make sure you goals are aligned with theirs and the work environment seems like one you could enjoy. During the phone screen, ask questions about the goal of the organization and role. Second, during the interview, back your answers up (with team fit in mind) by providing specific examples from work experience or past projects. For instance, if you know that a company values team collaboration, make sure to highlight previous examples of how you successfully partnered with colleagues on team projects instead of stressing how you accomplished projects in silos. Third, recognize what cultural fit is and what it isn’t. Cultural fit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring your unique perspectives and background to the table during the interview process. Rather, you want to make sure fundamental, core values align with those of the company, and that your behavior meshes well with those already existing in the organization. In summary, ‘cultural fit’ is considered an important factor for any company during the recruiting and interview process. Each company has its own cultural uniqueness. One of the ways to find a great fit is to think about what your ideal company and ‘cultural fit’ is to you. Then target companies that share these commonalities with you for a win-win outcome. Angela Stugren is the VP of Career Development at Coding Dojo, a 14-week coding bootcamp in Silicon Valley, Seattle and Los Angeles, and founder of Cloutera Consulting Group, a Seattle-based recruitment consulting firm helping start-ups compete for world-class technical talent.