“Are they a cultural fit? Candidates must fit in with our company.” These words are often used by recruiters, when they talk about the need for a fit between company culture and candidates. Therefore, the theme of cultural fit already plays a central role in personnel selection. Not without reason, more and more companies are relying on video interviews, instead of CVs, cognitive testing or job references, as an early screening tool to properly assess fit.
What does the term “company culture” actually mean?
Cultural Fit = fit of the candidate for an organisation and position
Often, the “fit” of applicants is misunderstood just in terms of fit to the company culture. However, this is only one side of the coin, because the fit of the candidate referred to is the fit to the needs and activities of a position. (eg. Is it rather a monotonous task? How much responsibility does the role require?) If we look closely, fit here refers to requirements.
5 models for describing company culture
Company culture has been researched and written about a lot in the past 100 years. These efforts have been summarised by Giorgi (2015) and colleagues in a new article. But how can we describe the general culture of a company? Here are five perspectives.
- Values: From this perspective, the company culture is defined by the good and desirable goals of the employees. This common set of values keeps the organisation stable and predictable.
- Anecdotes: The culture is characterised by common history, ideals and values of the company, manifested in stories and anecdotes. An example would be the story of a billionaire discounter-king. The corks can pop on his milestone birthday with only the least expensive sparkling wines from his own range.
- Frames: Culture here moves within a certain framework of rules, a kind of filter in which a number of areas, objectives and issues within the framework of the organisation have more formative importance than subjects outside the frame.
- Tools: Under this perspective, company culture is characterised by the everyday processes, resources or tools that are available to employees in order to implement their ideas. Less joint work to meet a goal, but more of the same foundations for individuals, is how this culture works.
- Categories: Individual members focus their behaviour on a certain prototype and limits it apart from other prototypes. The categories can be very different, but still have the same goals, activities and daily resources.
Organisations are changing – what about culture?
100 years is a long time. Are these concepts at all relevant? What about the culture in organisations today? Companies change through the greater use of digital media, through team members, integration into various global and social contexts and changing resources. Even organisations today have to contend with very different challenges than they did a few years ago: millennials are reluctant to stay too long in one job, which forcibly leads to a higher turnover. Innovation cycles change much faster than even a few years ago and it’s common for employees in the same team to be scattered around the world, which brings a different culture of virtual collaboration.
Common culture is impossible – or a central value
How these changes are reflected in the future of company culture can not be predicted easily. Giorgi (2015) and colleagues see this primarily in two ways: either it will no longer be possible in an ever faster world of work, to develop its own culture, which affects all employees in the same way. Or, company culture will become an even more central factor, because it will be possibly one of the few aspects of an organisation that is permanent. The latter case would make it easier, especially for newly hires, to adjust quickly into the new company. If culture becomes an even more central factor, then the acquisition of cultural fit in recruiting becomes more important. Tools that make this possible early on, such as the interview suite, have already become indispensable.
Simona Giorgi, Christi Lockwood & Mary Ann Glynn (2015). The Many Faces of Culture: Making Sense of 30 Years of Research on Culture in Organization Studies, The Academy of Management Annals, 9:1, 1-54, DOI: 10.1080/19416520.2015.1007645