As an Agile Consultant, I occasionally help companies hire for talent as I’m transforming companies (e.g., an Agile transformation, business transformation, digital transformation or similar). When I’m helping with interviewing or hiring talent process, the interviewers circle back together to discuss the candidate. I often hear things like “They don’t seem to fit our culture”. Sometimes, there is a question built into the interview questionnaire asking, “Are they a cultural fit?”.
When a company is satisfied with their culture, I can understand that you would align with the concept of hiring for cultural fit. However, when you are working through an agile, business, or digital transformation, this implies that you are also transforming to a different culture with new ways of working. When you say “hire for a cultural fit” it needs to be to the new culture that you want.
For example, if the culture is more command and control where work is prescribed upfront, then the work culture tends to be very individual driven (I have been assigned my task and I will work on it) with little feedback is asked for (do the work and get it done by the deadline). If you are transforming to Agile ways of working, you need a much more collaborative and team-oriented culture where people are pairing up on tasks, helping each other, and where feedback is expected. Hiring for the former (command and control type culture) will not help you get to an agile culture of collaboration.
If you are going through any type of transformation as a company, include a theme or work on re-evaluating the hiring process. Take a look at your standard interview questions and adapt them for the culture that you want. Also, describe the type of people that will fit your future culture (e.g., collaborative, team-oriented, etc.) and share this with the interviewers. This will help embed your current culture with the people that will support the culture you desire for the future.