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Company culture – the term is bandied about so often that it has achieved near-buzz word status. But there are reasons why “culture” has earned such a high place in our career vernacular: It is real and it is important. While it can seem intangible, company culture manifests itself in ways small and big, from how people dress while on the job to the way decisions are made and employees are rewarded. A good cultural fit means that your values, personality, and work style are in line with those of the company and the people who work there. How well you fit a company’s culture has a lot to do with how productive and happy you will be working there. But the concept of cultural fit comes into play long before you’re actually on the job – your perceived fit, or lack thereof, plays a big role in whether you get a job with a particular company in the first place. HR Professional Tom Armour calls cultural fit the “single most important element when hiring people.”

“Skills and experience are very important, but if a person does not fit with the company’s culture they will either leave or be terminated usually in a matter of months,” says Armour, who also is co-founder of High Return Selection, a firm that helps companies recruit top-level talent. “We often remind companies — is this a person who you will enjoy having on the team for the next five years?”

Armour says good cultural fit is a prerequisite for whether a candidate will move forward in the interview process. Specific skills, he said, can be taught while cultural fit cannot. Donn LeVie, Jr., an experienced hiring manger, sees cultural fit as a secondary consideration – but important, nonetheless. For LeVie, author of Confessions of a Hiring Manager, cultural fit comes in after skills and experience when evaluating job candidates. There are instances when a candidate who may not be a good cultural fit has rare skills that an employer needs.

“It can be a bitter pill to swallow,” he says. “No one wants to hire a highly skilled candidate who doesn’t demonstrate — through communication, attitude, quality of work — commitment to the mission and vision of the corporation, but it does happen.”

Whether the person making the final call on whether you get hired sees cultural fit as the end-all, be-all or whether they rank it lower than skills and experience, the fact is undeniable: Hiring managers care about cultural fit. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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