The importance of finding the “right fit” in professional and organisational journeys

4 min read
Founder and Managing Director of the LMW HR Group, Christine Vantola, discusses why cultural fit is the secret ingredient for a harmonious and thriving work experience, sharing her personal experiences and advice for employees and employers.

In the early years of my career, I found myself in a role where, despite achieving professional success, the cultural fit was sorely lacking. The company’s values and work environment didn’t align with my own, leading to a challenging experience that impacted both my professional and personal well-being.

While the job allowed me to excel in my responsibilities, the absence of cultural alignment took a toll. It became evident that success in a role doesn’t guarantee fulfilment if the organisational culture clashes with one’s values and work approach. The dissonance affected my enthusiasm for the job and, ultimately, my overall job satisfaction.

As an employee, finding the right cultural fit meant feeling a sense of belonging and purpose within the workplace. It went beyond the tasks assigned to me; it was about sharing common values with my colleagues and embracing a collaborative spirit. This harmony in values not only enhanced my job satisfaction but also contributed significantly to my overall performance and success within the company.

When I ascended to leadership roles and became an employer, I witnessed first-hand the impact of cultural fit on team dynamics and organisational success. The realization struck me that hiring decisions should extend beyond a candidate’s technical abilities. While skills and experience are undeniably crucial, they must align seamlessly with the company’s culture to foster a thriving work environment.

As a recruiter, I had the privilege of being on the other side of the hiring table. It became evident that identifying the right cultural fit was a two-way street. Many times, a candidate would perfectly match the job description and yet not get an offer. Other times an employer would hire a candidate that perfectly matched the role only to part ways a few months down the line.

In both these scenarios, candidates and employers alike stressed trying to understand what went wrong. In my experience, what goes wrong in unsuccessful interviews and hires where skills and experience seem ideally aligned, is the lack of cultural fit. Cultural fit often takes second stage and gets neglected, but I can’t stress enough its importance in the long-term success of any individual, team and organisation.

My advice to job seekers

To all the job seekers out there, I implore you to go beyond the allure of a prestigious job title or an impressive salary. Dive deep into the company’s culture, values, and work environment. Ask yourself if this is a place where you can thrive both professionally and personally. Remember, your success is not solely defined by what you know but also by where you belong. What can you do:

  • Explore employee reviews on platforms like Glassdoor. Pay attention to recurring themes in reviews. If employees consistently highlight positive aspects related to culture, management, and work.
  • Participate in company-hosted events or webinars. Attend virtual town halls, webinars, or industry events hosted or sponsored by the company. It provides insights into the company’s culture, values, and how they engage with employees.
  • Use interviews to ask targeted questions about the company’s culture. Inquire about team dynamics, how decisions are made, or the company’s response to challenges. The responses can give you a sense of the cultural aspects that matter to you.
  • Reach out to current and/or former employees on LinkedIn for information. Engage in conversations about their experiences working for the company. Ask about challenges they’ve faced and what they appreciate most about the company’s culture.
  • Scrutinize job descriptions for clues about work expectations. Look for language that reflects the company’s stance on work-life balance. If the job emphasizes flexible hours or remote work options, it may align with your preferences.

My advice for employers

Employers, I urge you to consider cultural fit as a cornerstone of your hiring strategy. While technical skills are essential, they should be complemented by shared values, a collaborative mindset, and a genuine commitment to the company’s mission.

  • Review candidates’ social media profiles, such as LinkedIn. A candidate’s LinkedIn profile can provide insights into their professional background, endorsements, and connections. Look for alignment between their online persona and the values of your company.
  • Include behavioral questions in interviews to assess cultural fit. Ask about situations the candidate has faced in the past, focusing on teamwork, conflict resolution, or adapting to change. Their responses can reveal how well they align with your company’s values.
  • Request references that speak to both professional and interpersonal skills. Contact previous employers or colleagues who can provide insights into the candidate’s teamwork, communication style, and ability to adapt to different work environments.
  • Assess whether the candidate’s values align with your company’s mission and culture. If your company values innovation, inquire about the candidate’s approach to problem-solving or examples of when they contributed to creative solutions in previous roles.
  • Implement skills assessments or practical tests related to the job. For a programming role, a coding test can help evaluate technical skills. Additionally, a practical task can reveal how candidates approach problem-solving and whether their work style aligns with your team’s expectations.

My journey has taught me that success is a holistic endeavour, and cultural fit is the catalyst that allows individuals and organisations a fulfilling and prosperous journey.

LMW - The art of Kintsugi - web2The art of Kintsugi for professional and personal growth
LMW - living abroad - webHow living abroad can reshape who you are
LMW - cultural fit