Knowledge Center


Article -> Dispelling the Myth of "Not Hiring for Culture"

Date Added: October 2019

There have been many recent articles about not hiring for culture. The way they are written, I can see why others would begin to believe this. Unfortunately, it is misleading and wrong. Successful organizations must hire for culture.

One article stated, a good fit culturally is that he or she is someone they'd like to have a beer with. This is ridiculous. I have hired myriad people who are a culture fit and have never once wondered if I would have a beer with them.

Let us dispel this myth so leaders understand hiring for culture is necessary. Hiring for culture is to hire someone who aligns with your organization's values, believes in your mission/vision, and has a desire to help your organization improve and be more successful.

If your values are honesty, integrity, respect, community-orientation, volunteerism, accountability, fun, customer commitment, etc.; you want to hire people who align with these items. If they do not, do not hire them – even if they are skilled in the job – because culture is not teachable, while skills are.

In simpler terms, you want people who share similar beliefs and values as your organization; however, you do not want people who think like you. Some may believe hiring for culture is hiring people who think like you. This is completely incorrect. Good leaders hire people who are different thinkers, have different strengths and skills; although, still fit with culture.

Example #1: As much as I like to believe I am a good leader; I know empathy is not one of my strengths. I am OK at it and always seek to improve it; however, there are many others (my wife included) who are simply better at empathy. At my last few jobs, I had several direct reports strong on empathy because I know this was a gap of mine and provided a more well-rounded team. In each instance, the employees still fit the culture.

Example #2: I had a leader who was an eternal optimist, calm, and always sought consensus. All good and positive traits, and different from mine; which are being a realist and idealist, being a bit high-strung, and OK receiving majority feedback vs. consensus. He is also a visionary person, while I am strategic. We both fit the culture or the organization, and we worked well together because we thought differently about problems/issues, asked each other questions we would not otherwise consider; yet, typically came to the same solution – thus validating and strengthening ourselves and our organization.

These are two brief examples of exactly why we should hire for culture. Those who believe otherwise are letting their organizations and other employees down. Remember, Peter Drucker said, culture eats strategy for breakfast. He understood the importance and value of culture; and having employees who fit the culture is how strategy is successfully implemented. Do not let the other article tell you otherwise.

David Yeghiaian is committed to inspiring others through faith and leadership. Reach him at
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