At its core, cultural fit means that employees’ beliefs and behaviors are in alignment with their employer’s core values and company culture.
“you’re not a cultural fit,” is code for, “we can’t see your personality and approach to work fitting in with the rest of us.”
The culture of any organization — that ineffable mix of traditions, habits, assumptions, and unwritten rules that add up to “how we do things around here” — is so complex, and so subtle, that it’s hard (if not impossible) to sum up in a few simple phrases.
Cultural fit is a concept that can be hard to define, but everyone knows when it is missing. Imagine a company founder who believes that an open office plan and team projects promote creativity and progress, but whose employees are overwhelming introverts. Or think about the ambitious employee stuck in an organization that offers no training, tuition reimbursement or room for advancement.
One of the biggest challenges in looking for a new job is successfully navigating the ‘culture club’ throughout the interview process. It can feel like you are back in high school. Each company you interview with will have its own tribe-like feel. Think of all the cliques you used to encounter: the jocks, the nerds, the cheerleaders, the artists, the goths, the rich kids, etc. Each group had a set of beliefs that dictated how they spoke, dressed, and interacted with one another. It was up to you to find the group where you felt you belonged. While I wish I could tell you times have changed, they haven’t. We’ve all grown up, but we are still human – and forming tribes is what humans do. It’s our way of bonding so we can work together and be more productive. Now, before you get defensive and cry, “not fair!” consider this…
Every Successful Company Has a Strong Culture Club
Google. Apple. Facebook. Amazon. To work at these prestigious companies, you need to fit in with their culture club. This is never going to go away. As long as there are companies to work for, there will be culture clubs to go with them. As job seekers, it’s up to us to identify and pursue companies where we know our personality and approach to work will be accepted.
If you’ve been told you weren’t a cultural fit in an interview, don’t take it personally. It’s likely they did you a favor. Why work someplace where you don’t feel like you belong? Instead, move on and use the tips above to find a culture club that lets you do your best work!