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The Right Hire: Why Culture Fit and Soft Skills Matter

Employee team representing culture fit

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When assessing job candidates, skills and experience seem to dominate the evaluation criteria. Yet even the most capable applicants can fail when a culture clash emerges. Moreover, when soft skills such as communication skills and emotional intelligence are lacking, a new hire can find themselves unable to thrive in the new environment.

So, while skills and experience are drive competency, cultural fit and soft skills enable the compatibility needed for teams to thrive.

The Importance of Culture Fit

Research shows that 77% of job applicants evaluate a company’s culture before applying. What this means is, employees are no longer choosing roles based on pay and benefits alone. Today, finding the right cultural fit has become pivotal. Employees expect purposeful work that aligns with their values, as well as a welcoming, inclusive work environment where management can be trusted.

So how can businesses ensure that they create a culture that will help them attract and retain top talent? The answer lies in identifying the attributes that will help employees thrive in your unique culture – and then evaluating job candidates based on those attributes.

Recommended: 13 Interview Red Flags To Watch For

Defining Culture Fit

Culture fit refers to how well an employee aligns with a company’s culture’s values, beliefs and behaviors.

It’s not just about finding someone who “fits in” with their colleagues (which is a great benefit) but also someone who contributes to your culture and mission. And there’s more than just one aspect to culture fit – teams and departments have their own sub-cultures within the organization. For example, a company’s sales team has a very different sub-culture than the accounting department, due to the different types of work they do. Here are some focus areas when evaluating a candidate’s cultural fit with your organization.

  1. Shared Values & Priorities – Does the candidate’s values around things like integrity, quality, transparency and work-life balance match up? Are key priorities like innovation, efficiency and social responsibility viewed the same way? Make sure your interview process includes a discussion of these key compatibility issues.
  • Work Ethic, Work Style – Whether your company has a highly competitive, driven culture or a more casual, laid environment, making sure a new hire’s work ethic is aligned with the expectations of the job will help ensure their success. Are they independent and self-motivated or do they need a manager’s feedback and supervision? Do they like a fixed 9 to 5 work schedule or are they available to attend evening networking events or out of town conferences? Evaluating a candidate’s work ethic/work style is particularly important when hiring for a remote or hybrid position.

Recommended: 7 Strategies for a Strong Remote IT Team Culture

  • Growth Mindset – If your company is growing, then you need employees with a growth mindset. This means hiring people who are open to acquiring new skills and industry knowledge. During the interview process, assess each candidate’s eagerness to learn new processes and technologies and take on new responsibilities. Don’t forget to see if they’re open to giving and receiving feedback, too.

Considering Soft Skills

To understand the importance of hiring for soft skills, we have only to take a look at the rapid changes Artificial Intelligence is bringing to the workplace. You may need employees who not only work well with others, but can also adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, demands and even job descriptions. Here are a few key soft skills hiring managers focus on to ensure new associates will thrive in their new environment.

  1. Communication – Active listening, verbal and nonverbal communication skills help new employees quickly integrate with their team and gain the trust of others. In addition, they are more likely to learn new skills quickly and improve the productivity of the team.
  2. Teamwork – The ability to work toward a shared goal and collaborate with others to solve problems can be as important as skills and experience. Collaborative skills help employees contribute to the success of your organization.
  3. Time management – Being able to prioritize tasks and use time effectively allows employees to accomplish more without supervision. Look for clues to a candidate’s time management skills during the interview process.
  4. Adaptability – This is a big one in today’s rapidly changing world. Adaptable people roll with the setbacks and are energized, rather than paralyzed, by change.
  5. Problem-solving and critical thinking Problem solvers are people who can analyze situations and identify the best course of action. Every team needs them! Consider giving candidates a hypothetical job-specific problem to solve during the evaluation process.
  6. Emotional intelligence or EQ – EQ enables employees to navigate complex social dynamics and work effectively (and compassionately) within diverse teams.

Baking Culture Fit into Your Process

Getting the right talent-culture match requires moving beyond qualifiers on paper. If your organization struggles with turnover and new hires that don’t seem to fit, you may want to work with your human resources team and executive management to create a handbook that defines your corporate values and mission. As part of that exercise, each team or department would be wise to discuss the soft skills that contribute to a successful new hire. While this exercise may take a little time, consider the time and money wasted when an employee quits or is let go due to a bad fit.

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Communicating Your Culture to Job Seekers

While cultural alignment is pivotal for hiring and retaining top talent, assessing these nuances in-house can be daunting. Effective companies partner with specialized staffing firms because they know how to hire for corporate culture fit. These outside experts can also measure your company culture against industry peers to spotlight differentiating advantages.

By prioritizing cultural fit, you can create a place to work where employees don’t just make a living – they create a life! Ready to start using culture to drive success? Partner with a staffing agency to find candidates who fit your culture and can help drive your growth.

We’re Here to Help

Hiring managers have a lot on their plate, and hiring for culture fit, soft skills and competency can be tough. This is when it pays to work with a firm that specializes in helping you secure in-demand talent – even those who may not be actively seeking a new role. Contact BravoTECH at 800.726.7286 or visit to learn more.