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Is hiring for "Culture Fit" a wolf in sheep's clothing?

The idea of hiring for culture fit often comes from a good place. It surrounds hiring people based not only on their skills and experience, but also that their values, beliefs, and behaviours align with those of your company. However, this practice has also been criticized for being a "wolf in sheep's clothing," as it can lead to discrimination and homogeneity in the workplace.


Hiring based on values, beliefs, and behaviours is seen as a way to promote a positive work environment and reduce turnover. The thinking being it leads to a more harmonious and in-sync workplace where people are pulling in the same direction. However, this is not without problems. It can unconsciously lead to discriminate against certain groups of people, such as those from different backgrounds or those who have different perspectives.


For example, if a company's culture is defined as being "competitive," or “aggressive” this may lead to the hiring of individuals who are more extroverted and assertive, while overlooking introverted and collaborative candidates – especially where those traits have no bearing on their ability to succeed in their job nor have a negative effect on colleagues.


Another issue is it can lead to a lack of diversity in the workplace, as there can be a tendency for a “cookie-cutter” talent strategy where people are hired based on the fact they have the same traits as people already in the business.


Moreover, culture fit can also lead to groupthink, where individuals may feel pressured to conform to the company's culture, rather than bring their unique perspectives and ideas to the table. This can stifle innovation and creativity, and ultimately lead to a lack of growth and progress.


In conclusion, while the intentions behind hiring for culture fit may be good, it can also lead to (typically unconscious) discrimination and homogeneity in the workplace. Instead of focusing on culture fit, companies should focus on hiring individuals who possess the skills and qualifications needed for the job, and creating a positive and inclusive work environment which turns culture fit into a diversified and improved company culture.


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