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Cultural Add vs. Cultural Fit

Adapted from the Recruitomics Happy Hour session on May 3rd, 2022

What is a “Cultural Fit?”

On the positive, a ‘cultural fit’ is a candidate who….

  • Aligns with a company’s overall vision + general values

  • Expresses interest in working in a start-up or well-established company

  • Buys into the workflow/objectives/goals of the company

…and a concept that can strengthen a team and invite diversity.

On the negative, a ‘cultural fit’ is a candidate who….

  • “Checks boxes” not directly related to the work they are tasked with (gender/race/personality type/learning style, age, etc.)

  • “Blends in” with the team on surface-level factors

  • Is likely to conform or not challenge a culture

…and a bias that unfairly eliminates candidates. 

What is a “Cultural Addition?”

A candidate who….

  • Brings unique, fresh, and new experiences to a team

  • Has a background that has not yet been expressed on a team

  • Is more likely to add something the team doesn’t have

  • Has experienced untraditional education or training that is valuable to the role + company culture

  • Provides “positive deviance” 

Not to be conflated with “tokenism”, Cultural Additions to a team are vital in creating an inclusive culture where people feel a sense of belonging. Contrarily, tokenism can lead to a narrowing of representation and can isolate employees and candidates. 

Two Different Mindsets

It is important to set the proper intention and ensure that hiring teams go into interviews with the proper perspectives to search for great candidates.

A cultural fit mindset seeks to hire and retain more of what is familiar. It preserves comfort and familiarity and asks the question, “What is this candidate lacking?” Unfortunately, this mindset can lead to missing out on great candidates because of superficial bias. 

A cultural addition mindset focuses on adding perspective. It welcomes those who value an organization’s standards and culture but also bring something different that positively contributes to the company. This mindset ponders the question, “What does this candidate offer?” 



“I want to be able to grab a beer with them.”

“They didn’t seem that friendly or outgoing.”

“We only like candidates from this particular lab/university.”

“It doesn’t seem like they’d fit in with us.”

“The candidate is too old for this position.”

“I don’t like this huge gap experience on their resume.”

“It might be hard for the rest of the team to understand their accent.”

“I can’t pronounce their name."