Do You Fit the Company Culture?

When you make the decision to change jobs you are also making a decision to adapt to a new corporate culture as well. The biggest challenge candidates have is not matching their skills – it’s really making sure they “fit” into a new corporate culture. The very best skill-set, experience and education don’t matter if you don’t fit the culture. It’s all about gelling with the new team. And guess what? You can’t fake it! You either fit – or you don’t.

Trying too hard to convince a new employer that you are “THE ONE” is a mistake. Too many candidates try to change their own DNA (during an interview) in an effort to show that they “fit in” and it just doesn’t work that way. NOPE.

I always like to get a glimpse into a company’s culture before we launch a new search. It’s hard to do that over the phone. On the majority of our assignments we visit our client on-site in their environment to spend face-time with the management team to get a better understanding of their culture and the way they are wired. Spending time on the ground gives us a better idea of the company – which we try our best to convey to our candidates. It’s not easy to explain a company’s culture unless you experience it firsthand.

Some experts say that matching corporate culture is 50% of the decision process in hiring a new employee. I think it might actually be higher than that!

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.


  • Tim,

    Excellent point! Can you give the candidates some pointers on how best to size up the company culture during an interview?


  • Gwen:

    Tough question – but I always suggest talking to existing employees during the interview process. If you talk to enough people you will have a better feel for what their culture is all about. Dig and dig some more.

    You can usually get the answers you are looking for.

  • Tim,

    Thank you for referencing my blog on the cost of culture. I’m honored.

    Organizations spend a disproportionate amount of their candidate evaluation on technical fit. Technical fit might be a first-level quality, but is not an accurate projection for job success.

    The challenge, for both the interviewer and the job candidate is that fit really is, at least, 4 criteria:
    1. person to job (technical fit);
    2. person to team;
    3. person to manager; and
    4. person to culture

    Fit is more important, as we have all worked with smart people who do not work within a team or an organization – disaster: financial and motivational.

    If it was about technical ability or IQ, recruiting and hiring would be easy. However, 2, 3, and 4 all get lumped into a general culture bucket. From both sides of the interview the questions and answers should reveal more about total fit.

    I’ve gained great confidence to better understand fit with two frameworks: emotional intelligence and competing values.

    What’s great about both are they help the candidate understand fit as much as the organization.

    Tim and Gwen, I appreciate the recommendation and look forward to thoughts, comments, and insights.

    Toby Elwin

  • Toby:

    I thought your content was awesome and I enjoyed reading it very much. Too many candidates and employers jump too fast in making hiring decisions without considering cultural fit. It is a really big deal!!!

  • Tim,

    Again thanks, I’ve enjoyed the Healthcare IT Today site.

    Our organizations are under constant stress from terms like “innovation” and “entrepreneurship” as both a business and operational necessity to compete today; not only for business reality, but for the war on talent.

    A long-standing trend out of step with today’s talent market is job roles being sponsored or written that rely on recruiting people with industry-specific experience, at the cost of great technical skills.

    When we look to hire industry-only experts, we exclude a whole range of great talent; talent that can provide cross-industry pollination of ideas, styles, and solutions: innovation.

    I’ve consulted on human capital for the past decade and run against the tide when I advocate hiring outstanding talent does not rely on industry-specific skills.

    Someone with great technical skill, but from a different industry has all the ability to ramp up and learn any industry-specific particulars. However, why indoctrinate or convert, say, a financial IT expert into the health care IT world? The upside for your team or department from this experienced financial IT professional for collaborative excellence and innovation is huge.

    When a hiring company looks to fill a role bringing together a diverse group means cognitive diversity will bring new solutions.

    When hiring managers or HR directors insist on 5, 10, 20 years of healthcare-related experience in their job requisitions, I believe fear has taken hold. Worse, when these requirements are put up the hiring firm is not aligned to today’s mobile workforce.

    What are you and your readers thoughts on industry experience versus technical competence from another industry?

    Toby Elwin

    Sorry, that was a long reply.

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