Organizational culture is more than a popular talking point. According to a 2018 People Management Report, 84% of employers say that organizational culture is critical to the success of their business. This widely-held belief has sparked countless conversations about organizational culture – including how to define culture, how to measure culture, how to manage culture change, and how to hire for culture fit.

The topic of hiring for culture fit came up in a recent webinar on How to Reinforce Your Culture with a Strong Onboarding Process. I/O expert Chelsea Petrie had an excellent response when asked by an audience member:

Culture fit versus culture add: What are your thoughts on hiring people who fit your culture, versus hiring people who will add to your culture?

This debate that has gotten a lot of attention recently. Culture add has been defined as someone who shares the same values, but can bring something new to the team, while culture fit is often seen as ‘someone who looks like us and thinks like us.’ The underlying concern is that hiring for culture fit will lead to group think, and inadvertently discourage creativity and individuality among employees. This is also a concern in terms of diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

culture fit

Here’s how Chelsea explained culture fit versus culture add:

“When we talk about culture fit, we’re talking about the values that are prioritized the most within an organization…

For example, if you have a highly collaborative, team-oriented work environment, but you’re hiring individuals who don’t prioritize that value, you’re going to have a jangley culture, and it’s going to cause behavioral issues. You might start to see performance lacking, engagement lacking, and turnover occurring.”


Chelsea continued by saying, “In the hiring process, I would definitive encourage that employers seek out a strong culture fit, and then look for the culture add piece in any role-specific knowledge, experience, or education that someone would bring to the table. Anything that’s above-and-beyond is fantastic!”

For more insight on maintaining a cohesive culture, along with best practices for effectively onboarding new hires into your culture, check out Chelsea’s full webinar on-demand: How to Reinforce Your Culture with a Strong Onboarding Process