Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions
Culture add is the concept of selecting and hiring candidates for a business based on what skills or behaviours they might add to the existing company culture.
By being open to new ideas and perspectives, and focussing specifically on adding qualities that current team members lack, hiring for culture add helps build more diverse and inclusive teams.
The idea of hiring for culture add is relatively new and aims to replace the concept of cultural fit. In a nutshell, this new hiring method strives to better support companies’ goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) while simultaneously building better-performing teams.
The “culture” in culture add refers to the company culture within a workplace. This culture consists of the complete set of values, views, and behaviours that define an organisation and makes it unique.
In recent decades, the importance of company culture and the effect it has on teams and their performance has been widely recognised. Organisations realised that a stronger team culture resulted in a more cohesive, more aligned, and more effective team.
As a result, they started actively defining their own company culture, communicating this philosophy externally, and recruiting for additional team members that fit this description. This was based on the premise that individuals’ shared views and experiences create a sense of belonging to a group (in this case, the company).
This resulted in employees being more likely to stay in the organisation and being more engaged. By promoting a strong company culture and building a team of people that all align with this, organisations hoped to reduce workplace conflict and maximise efficiency.
Unfortunately, there are also several downsides to this method of hiring for culture fit. To try to hire employees that fit in with the company culture, hiring managers and recruiters (often unconsciously) fell into the trap of selecting individuals that thought, acted, and looked like them.
Not only did this result in homogenous, static teams that didn’t actually perform well, but it also opened the door to unconscious bias and exclusion. Hiring for culture add was designed as a solution to this problem.
For an in-depth discussion on the cultural fit controversy, please see our separate article: Is cultural fit discrimination?
Rather than only looking for candidates to fit into the existing culture, culture add suggests that companies should be open to bringing employees with new perspectives on board. When hiring for culture add, the goal is to not shy away from candidates who don’t fit the status quo.
Instead, difference and diversity should be embraced and actively promoted. Not only is this more fair and inclusive, offering equal opportunities to all candidates, but research has shown it has financial benefits as well.
When hiring for culture add, a company should take the following points into account:
When interviewing candidates for a position, recruiters and hiring managers should try to ask the right questions. These should be aimed at uncovering an individual’s way of working, thinking, and behaving. This can help identify whether a candidate might be a good culture add for the business.
Once the candidate has answered a question, it’s up to the hiring manager or recruiter to analyse what this actually means for their potential culture add.
Does this candidate have specific skills or knowledge that is currently lacking in the organisation? Is the candidate likely to challenge the status quo? Does this candidate represent a specific view, voice, or background that is missing in the current composition of the team?
By asking the right questions, and looking for the right answers, companies can start hiring for culture add rather than just looking for someone to fit in.
Examples of culture add interview questions:
Do note: not all questions are acceptable (or even legally permitted under GDPR regulations) to ask when interviewing candidates. For example, asking a candidate about their religion, marital status, or similar personal matters is not allowed.
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What is cultural fit? Learn more about the definition of cultural fit and what it means for the assessment of candidates during the interview process.
Shortlisting is the process of identifying candidates from the applicant pool that best meet the requirements and criteria of a job posting and who will be moved forward in the recruiting process.
Company culture is the term used to describe the views, morals, values and general internal atmosphere of a company.
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