What really is culture fit?

Culture Fit: What Does it Really Mean?

“Culture Fit” is a term that is thrown around often—particularly within the context of interviewing—and is a big component of whether or not a person will ultimately receive a job offer. But what does it actually mean for a person to be a great culture fit? And how do companies assess it during interviews? We think it's time to demystify the term Culture Fit by defining it and giving you a few interview pointers. Let’s dive in!

Four Types of Cultures

Every company cultivates a different cultural style and it’s your job to find the company with a culture that appeals to you—just as it is their job to find the right people that fit their culture. There are four types of culture

  • Exploratory (focused on evolution and ideation)
  • Stable (focused on process and consistency)
  • Co-Creative (focused on relationships and teamwork)
  • Productive (focused on results and discipline)

Assess the company’s culture

While companies tend to lean hard into one culture, many will have a mix of them. You’ll be able to tell by studying their values, goals, and latest work. Bonus points if you can speak with a current employee to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to work there. Interviewers will ask behavioral and value-based questions that are focused on one of the four above areas to find the right people. Once you get a feel for which cultural style applies, then you can know what lines of questioning will come your way in interviews and whether it will fit with what motivates you. 

Assess the company’s values

A company will almost always post their values on their site. It’s important to look them over before you begin interviewing so that you’re prepared to answer with their targeted values in mind. If you’re a good culture fit, you’ll find that it’s easy to answer questions with their values in mind because you have the same personal work ethic. 

  • For Exploratory cultures: Offer examples of when you had to think fast on the job and walk them through your process for coming up with new concepts.
  • For Stable Cultures: Provide examples around your personal process for making decisions and be able to label what peak performance looks like in your opinion.
  • For Co-Creative Cultures: Give examples of when you came together with coworkers to tackle a challenging project, went beyond your job description to help others, and how you like to work with people (including communication style). 
  • For Productive Cultures: Be ready to provide examples of how you plan projects, get organized, and keep yourself on track to see results. 

Assess the company’s goals

The company knows where it’s going and will often present its previous achievements as well as what’s next. If their goals are not as cut and dry on their website, then you’re able to understand their goals from their latest work. 

  • For Exploratory cultures: Speak to your current dream projects and potential ideas you would bring to the table for their company.
  • For Stable Cultures: Speak to your own success rates on projects and how you would achieve the same success at their company.
  • For Co-Creative Cultures: Bring up past situations where diverse thought was paramount to tackling a tough project. Provide examples of how you delegate and lean on others, and in turn, they’ve leaned on you for help during challenges.
  • For Productive Cultures: Talk about how you can turn failing projects into successful ones. Feel free to ask where they struggle and offer examples of what you would do to help them succeed.

Finally, assess how YOU feel about the company

It’s not enough for you to be acceptable to the company. You need to experience alignment, too, throughout the interviewing experience. Take note! Have you ever experienced a certain desperation on their side to hire as quickly as possible? That could be a red flag that they will hire just about anyone. Have you ever felt in your gut that the politics and policies of a company were just off to you? You need to follow your intuition on whether or not this company is the right place for you. There will always be times when a job and company looks great on paper. But experiencing whether or not you and the company fit well together—that can only be discerned through interviewing. 

TLDR; Ultimately when a person fits the culture of a company everything seems to click in place during interviews. But companies want forward-thinkers, so you must not be afraid to challenge and set new goals to help the company make improvements (based on their culture type). The dedication for growth is the same on both sides and a culture fit must be mutually felt for the working relationship to last—and earn you a job offer!

If you’re looking for your next gig, the recruiters here at Artisan have a list of clients looking for creative professionals just like you.

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