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Cultural Fitness: Are You in the Right Shape to Get Hired?


In today’s ever-morphing hiring landscape, employers are devoting more energy for determining if a candidate is a good cultural fit. Beyond just assessing whether a potential employee will be a squeaky wheel, cultural fit is an important element for succession planning as more Baby Boomers exit the workforce.

What is “cultural fit” anyway? Cultural fit addresses ideas of shared assumptions in a workplace environment, such as how to treat others, how time is managed, how work gets done, how to communicate, how to dress, which behavior isn’t tolerated, how resources are allocated, etc. When hiring managers or decision makers ask themselves, “Do I like you?”, that question encompasses all the above-mentioned criteria.

Soft Skills

Cultural fit includes the possession of such “soft skills” as collaboration, creativity, curiosity, problem solving, communication, conflict management, strong work ethic, adaptability, social awareness, empathy, emotional intelligence, clear and concise self-presentation. These soft skills apply to not only the day-to-day job, but to cultural fit because they represent core values and drive the business agenda.

But these skills are difficult to teach and can be very challenging to screen for in just one or two interviews. An Adecco Staffing survey found that 44% of executives said a lack of soft skills was the biggest proficiency gap in the U.S. workforce. Another survey by the International Association of Administrative Professionals, Office Team, and discovered that HR managers said they would hire someone with strong soft skills even if the technical skills were lacking because you can always teach technical skills. The mantra today is “Hire for attitude; train for aptitude.”

There’s no simple across-the-board answer that can apply to all jobs in all industries or professions. Multiple interviews and engaging discussions, as well as observed behaviors, help employers measure how well these factors match the organization’s core beliefs.

Here are some other approaches to cultural fit and the cost of the wrong hire.

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Donn LeVie Jr. is a former Fortune 500 hiring manager (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corp), award-winning author (Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 – Second Edition and Strategic Career Engagement), keynote speaker/seminar leader, and strategist. Over a 30-year career, he has reviewed thousands of résumés and cover letters, interviewed hundreds of candidates, and hired countless technical, marketing, and communications professionals in the earth and space sciences, software development support, and microprocessor design support.

Today Donn speaks on career engagement strategies; positioning and influence strategies; and personal breakthrough strategies as well as providing 8-week Elite Small Group Mentoring programs. Follow him on Twitter or contact him directly at

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