Interviewing

How Can I Show Great Culture Fit with a Prospective Employer?

culture fit

Is there any word in hiring that’s wrapped up in more voodoo and superstition than “culture fit?”

What is this magical element, and more importantly….how can you show it during the hiring process? Because make no mistake: it plays a HUGE role in who ultimately lands an offer.

There is a way to systematically identify a company’s values, and play to it. Read on:

Step 1: Identify the Core of a Company’s Mission.

There is a huge difference between the verbose and sprawling cultural descriptions companies write about themselves….and how they actually operate. Focus on the latter. Skip the company website and press releases and dig deep into their social media presence. Hop onto Glassdoor and read reviews of the company from actual employees- these can be enormously illuminating. Real clues that will aid you with culture fit are best found in informal or secondary channels, rather than on a company’s website.

Take note of the following:

-What kind of voice do they use when interacting with customers? How do they handle PR crises and complaints?

 -What words and phrases pop up over and over again in how they brand and position their products/services?

 -What’s the story behind the company? For example, the rise of Steve Jobs and Apple out of a basement in California is intrinsic to the company’s identity.

Use your research to write down 3 or 4 short bullet points crystallizing the WHAT and the WHY behind the company. Ex. “Leverage tech to create new healthcare models that improve lives and eliminate runaway costs.”


Also read: Company Culture: How to Learn the Truth Before You Say “Yes


Step 2: Identify the Talent They’re Most Attracted To.

Hop onto LinkedIn and run a search for professionals who currently work at the company, and are at a roughly similar seniority level as where you’d like to be. Pay close attention to their LinkedIn Summary sections, which is where you can get a sense of someone’s personality and priorities. Now go deeper into their professional experience, as well as their Featured Skills and Endorsements- what commonalities pop up over and over again? What skills rise to the top over and over again?

Next, use the following values and affix a number, 1-5 in order of how commonly they show up in talent profiles:

Strong Client Service Orientation

 -Knows how to embrace change

 -Loves to grow and learn

 -Communicates openly and honestly

 -Can get things down despite limited resources

 -Creative and open-minded

 By executing the steps above, you’ve HONESTLY identified a company’s mission, and figured out exactly how that applies to the kind of talent they hire. Now we’re going to take it to the final level, and actively position you as a great fit.


Also read: 3 Sneaky Factors that Can Turn a Hiring Manager Off


Step 3: Highlight Cultural Fit Across Your Platform.

Your Resume, LinkedIn Profile and Interview strategy comprise your career platform. And by strategically highlighting your alignment with a company’s values and talent preferences, you are setting yourself up towards being viewed as a “member of the tribe” right from the get-go! Here are some specific areas to consider altering:

-The Resume Opening. Don’t just start by listing your professional experience- create 2-3 bullet points that talk about the UNIQUE PAIN you solve, and the skills and perspective you bring in making that happen. Of course all of these bullets would align with your research. Here’s an example:

  • Compliance Improvement expert who understands how to drive change at the deepest levels without sacrificing growth, and develop robust risk management frameworks that bring crisis situations under control.

-The LinkedIn Summary. Skip the boilerplate speak and go conversational and passionate. Start with a powerful opening line and go from there. For example:

I help companies rethink the way they approach the Supply Chain to unlock major performance and efficiency gains.  

Add “cultural context” to major career accomplishments (Resume and LinkedIn). A few simple tweaks here can have a big impact.

Before: Increased sales 12% within Midwest territory inside of 12 months through team training and improvements to the selling process.

 After: Championed a “1 Client, 1 Solution” mindset sparking a 12% increase in sales within Midwest territory inside of 12 months. Developed and led team training sessions on implementing this approach from pre through post-sale.

-Prepare stories to address culture fit questions during the interview. How well do you adapt to change? What personalities do you butt heads with? How do you respond to criticism? What does your decision-making process look like? Common culture fit questions like these are almost guaranteed to show up during the hiring process. Don’t wing them. Instead, think about a particular experience or anecdote you can share to answer them, practice them beforehand, and have them in your “back pocket” moving into the hiring process.

About the Author

Anish Majumdar is a nationally recognized Career Coach, Personal Branding Expert, and a fierce advocate for transitioning leaders. His posts and videos on disrupting the "normal rules" of job searching and getting ahead reach a combined audience of 30M professionals every month. Go down the rabbit hole of Anish’s career videos at HelloAnish.com, and connect with him on LinkedIn to receive daily career tips and advice.