A Guide to Hiring for Organizational Culture Fit | Toggl Blog
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A Guide to Hiring for Organizational Culture Fit

James Elliott James Elliott Last Updated:

Until the robots fully take over, it’s the people that make any company an amazing place to work. That’s backed up by the stats, too, with workplace culture a key influencer for 46% of job seekers. In 2022, hiring for organizational culture fit has never been more important.

If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager looking to incorporate culture into the recruitment process, you’ve come to the right place. After we’ve looked at exactly what organizational culture is, we’ll walk you through how you can hire for organizational fit with your next hires.

Let’s get into it.

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Definition – What is Organizational Culture?

Organizational culture is a hard thing to pin down as it’s a bit of an abstract concept. But, let’s give it a go.

Organizational culture refers to the collective values, morals, expectations, and practices that all company members follow. Many people see it as the collection of traits that makes a company what it is. 

Crucially, organizational culture is something that every employee should buy into and help cultivate, whether they’re the CEO, the marketing manager, or the cleaner. A great culture helps people feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. This leads to improved performance and a sense of company loyalty. 

On the other hand, you sometimes hear about organizations with bad cultures. These companies appear dysfunctional, with low productivity, efficiency, and employee engagement.

No matter which way you look at it, culture is a big deal!

Why is Organizational Culture Important?

Sure, we might say it’s a big deal, but why is organizational culture actually so important? Here are just a few of the reasons: 

  • It sets the tone. Your culture is what defines you as a business, setting out what’s it like to work for your day-to-day. You can see the culture as the deal between each employee and the business. lt lays the foundation for things such as salary, benefits, and working styles.
  • It defines your external identity. Organizational culture and brand are entirely intertwined. The way you work on the inside shows up in your external image and vice versa. Therefore, getting your culture right helps you position yourself in the market and appeal to the right customers.
  • Culture builds loyalty. A great working environment is one of the key factors employees consider when choosing to work for a company. If employees like coming to work every day, they’ll feel energized, safe, and supported. This means they’re more likely to stick around for the long term.
  • It’s attractive. Here’s the silver bullet as a recruiter – a great organizational culture will help you attract top talent to your company. Good news travels fast, too. Before long, you’ll have people queuing up to come and work for you and your business.
  • It drives wellbeing and productivity. And of course, happier and more engaged staff are far more productive. Not only will they get along better and be more engaged, but they’ll also be less likely to take sick days and succumb to workplace stress and fatigue. 

The Different Types of Organizational Culture

But if you’ve worked at more than one organization, you’ll know that not every organizational culture is the same. And that’s not a bad thing because not every employee is the same. 

Different cultures appeal to different people, so it’s important to know that there are many types of cultures out there. The most common is the Cameron and Quinn Competing Values model – let’s take a look at each one in more detail: 

The Clan Culture

When organizations are inward-looking and value a nurturing environment, they’re identified as a Clan culture. These organizations value teamwork and focus on bringing people together to respond quickly and effectively to tasks and issues. 

Clans have a feeling of family and will often put the wants/needs/feelings of employees ahead of customers. They’re less focused on external results and more focused on growing/mentoring/engaging with employees to drive the best results.

Clan culture is often spotted in charity and public sector organizations where ‘doing the right thing’ is high on the agenda.

The Adhocracy Culture

Organizations with an adhocracy culture are all about being outward-looking and innovative. These companies value pace, dynamism, and creativity. They are happy to take risks if they can meet their customer’s needs quickly. 

Employees love new ideas and are comfortable in a less controlled, chaotic environment as they feed off the entrepreneurial bug. Many startup organizations fit into this culture type. This is especially true if they need to move fast and quickly pivot in an uncertain market. 

The Market Culture

Market organizations are all about being the best in the market. They’re hyper-aware of who’s around them, focusing hard on their customers and suppliers to drive the best outcomes. 

These organizations are competitive and, as such, attract competitive employees that want to win. As a result, they’re often less strategic in their work and aren’t particularly nurturing, focusing heavily on the short-term wins up for grabs. 

Many recruitment companies (especially agencies) fall into the Market culture type. 

The Hierarchy Culture

Lastly, the hierarchy culture is all about security, consistency, and coordination. Employees that work for these companies really value working in a controlled way, shying away from uncertainty and change. 

These companies are seen as a safe pair of hands. They deliver what’s needed when it’s needed in a no-frills sort of way. Hierarchies often have a lot of structure, rigor, and oversight, working to make their operations smooth and efficient without taking any risk. 

Many financial services companies fall into this culture type, getting things done in a safe and stable way that customers can trust.

Depending on where you read, you may find other models explaining different types of organizational culture – check out this article from AIHR if you want to do some further reading!

What’s Not Part of The Organizational Culture?

Before we move onto the hiring stuff, there’s just one last thing to clarify – what doesn’t count as organizational culture? 

It’s easy to lump anything a business does into the ‘culture’ bucket, but it’s just not true. While organizational culture may influence these things, they aren’t strictly part of a culture: 

  • Organization goals and objectives
  • Organization financial targets
  • Target operating models 
  • Legally-required company policies

Move trivial items shouldn’t be included here either, such as: 

  • Christmas parties/secret santa 
  • After work drinks 
  • Beer fridge
  • Pizza Fridays 
  • Video game nights
  • Free breakfast

Just be aware of these areas when hiring for organizational culture fit, as they aren’t strictly correct and may lead you down the wrong path.

How Company Culture Shapes Hiring Practices

Company culture shapes how every department operates, what they value, and how they deliver their work. 

That extends to your hiring as well. Your culture will shape: 

  • The way you pitch your job roles, focusing on the morals and values that are important to you.
  • The type of candidates who’ll apply for your roles depends on how your culture and brand translate into the market.
  • The different stages of your hiring process depending on whether you value skills, experience, or attitude.
  • How you’ll embed fair chance hiring practices into your process.
  • How you’ll build a diverse and inclusive workforce.
  • The level of nurturing and support you offer to new employees during the onboarding process.
  • Your expectations of new employees in the first 3 – 6 months of hiring them. 

You may not even realize that your company culture affects how you hire new candidates. As we’ve already discussed, when it comes to culture, there’s very rarely a right or wrong, so tweak the areas of your hiring process to align with cultural values accordingly.

How to Hire a Person, Not a Resume – Why Cultural Alignment Matters

So, now for the part you’ve been waiting for – how do you actually hire for organizational cultural fit? Sure, skills, experience, and qualifications are important, but you’ll also want to find candidates that fit into the way your business works. 

If you want to lean your hiring process towards culture, here are four easy things you can do: 

  1. It all starts with the job descriptions. If you want to find candidates that fit your company culture, start the process by letting them know what you’re all about. In the same way that you’d specific skills, experience, or qualifications in your job ads, set requirements around the type of culture you’d expect a candidate to fit into.
  2. Screen for cultural fit. As candidates apply for your latest job roles, ensure that part of your screening criteria focuses on culture. Here you’ll be looking for candidate values that align with your own and indicate the candidate will slot into the department/team they’re applying for. While you don’t want to introduce bias, any insight into work styles, mindset, and previous personal development activities may also give you an insight into a candidate’s cultural fit.
  3. Use a cultural fit assessment. We’ll go into more detail on this in a later section, but if you really want to dig into whether a candidate is an organizational culture fit, directly test them on it. Whether it’s through a skills test, personality quiz, or in-person test, there are loads of ways to get a true insight into your candidates.
  4. Behavioral-based interviews. Like your job specs and screening, weigh your interviews towards behavioral-based questions that get to the heart of what a candidate is like, what they value, and how they like to work with others. This gives you the best chance of determining cultural fit while you’re getting to know your candidate face-to-face.

While the cultural fit is important for every organization, it’s especially important for remote companies. When employees are spread across the globe, building a remote team culture is important to bridge the gap between the geographical distance – so make sure you tweak your hiring process accordingly.

Culture Fit vs. Culture Add – What’s The Difference?

As you read more and more about hiring for cultural fit, you’ll also come across the term cultural add. But what’s the difference? Check this out:

Cultural Fit. As we’ve discussed throughout this article, cultural fit is all about aligning with the culture of a business. Here, candidates share similar values, morals, expectations, and practices to the company they’re applying for. 

Cultural Add. Oppositely, “cultural add” actively looks for candidates with something different. That could be different thinking styles, experiences, values, or morals that enhance the business further.

But when would you look for cultural add candidates? 

  • Your organization needs to pivot
  • When you’re looking for fresh ideas
  • When you’re actively trying to change your culture
  • Your existing culture is poor
  • When the business is going through a transformation

When hiring for cultural add, all of the steps are the same. You simply assess candidates against where you want your culture to be rather than where it is right now.

What is a Cultural Fit Assessment? How To Do Them With Toggl Hire!

When hiring for organizational culture fit, your cultural fit assessment is the key tool in your armory. Here, you’re actively trying to determine whether a candidate is a right fit by collecting and analyzing data from them.

The best way to do that? Using a skills test of course! 

When it comes to determining cultural fit, it’s all about finding a candidate with the perfect soft skills. Our soft skills assessment tests are perfect for this, allowing you to set up a test for your candidates in just two clicks. 


From there, simply send the test out, and watch your candidate’s responses roll back in. Toggl Hire does all the legwork for you, automatically declining candidates that don’t hit the mark while showcasing your high performers in our easy-to-use dashboard. 

This gives you true insight into how a candidate behaves in a real-life situation, giving you the confidence that they’ll deliver the cultural fit (or add) that you and your business needs! 

If you like the sound of that, why not check out our 1-minute explainer video below? 

Wrapping Up

As the race for top talent continues to speed up, candidates are demanding an amazing organizational culture in their next role. Whether you’re running a clan, adhocracy, market, or hierarchy culture, consider aligning your values, morals, and working practices with your next candidates. 

Sure, your candidates need to have the skills for the job too, but if they don’t fit into your culture, you’re on a one-way road to a bad hire. But, if you start focusing on organizational culture fit, we’re sure you’ll find superstar candidates ready to knock it out of the park for your business! 

James Elliott

James Elliott is a Strategy Manager and Writer from London, UK. When not working on the day job, James writes on a variety of business and project management topics with a focus on content that enables readers to take action and improve their ways of working. You can check out James’ work on his website or by connecting on LinkedIn.

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