How NOT to Look for Cultural Fit

I saw this post in ere.net, Do You Look for Cultural Fit or Innovation, as if you could somehow separate the two. Oh my, the confusion about cultural fit abounds.

Let me set the record straight. Cultural fit is  NOT about a person’s preferences outside of work. It’s not about what you would to a desert island. How would telling you that tell you anything about how I would fit into your work culture? It has no bearing at all. None. It’s an irrelevant question. Stop with the irrelevant questions! (Grr.)

If you want to ask about cultural fit, first you need to understand your own culture. If you want to do that, you can look at Hiring Geeks That Fit, because the sample discusses that. Yes, I hope you buy the entire book, because then you can learn what other questions to ask, but the sample discusses how to look at culture. Let me start here.

Culture is what people can discuss. It’s how people treat each other. It’s what’s rewarded in the organization. That means anything you discover about a person outside of work has no relevance. None. Nada. Zilch.

You don’t have to ask about cultural fit or innovation. If you want to know about innovation, you can ask a question such as this one: Give me an example of a recent time you didn’t know how to solve a problem. What happened? That’s a behavior-description question. It’s a problem-solving question that’s partway to innovation. You might want to know about adaptability too. That’s a different question.

Innovation is not just one skill, it’s a sum of several skills. And, if you don’t have a culture of innovation already, you might not recognize those skills. You need to think and frame your questions carefully. That’s what good interviewers do.

Don’t fall for the “I must ask this kind of question or that kind of question” trap. If your questions are not telling you about how a person works at work, they are bad questions. Don’t use them. You deserve better.

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