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Culture Fit: The lie we’re telling ourselves

There’s this thing in the hiring world that’s considered important. It’s called “culture fit.”

Often, companies consider it to be one of the most important factors in hiring a candidate. If you aren’t a culture fit, the company won’t hire you. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how much experience you have. You’ll be tossed out.

So, what is culture fit exactly? It’s a good question and one that companies need to think about as they’re prioritizing it so highly. Culture fit is hard to describe. It’s a feeling that other people get when they meet you. It’s how well they think they’ll get along with you. In other words, culture fit is another way to say “popularity contest.”

If you talk to folks who work at startups, you’ll be surprised. After a candidate has left the building, it’s common for the entire team to take a vote. They vote on who liked the person. And, if one person decides they didn’t like the candidate, that candidate won’t be hired.  Period.

Think of it this way. Who do we tend to like and get along the best with? People who are like us. We tend to like people who are our age. We tend to like people who are our gender. We tend to like people who like the things we like.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, if we were on a date, nothing. But, we’re not. We’re at a job interview. And, a job interview is about your skills and experience. It’s about whether or not you can do THE JOB.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if a candidate has a bad attitude or is clearly not qualified, that’s a different story. But, when you have a candidate who gets along with the entire team and who has the experience you need, one person should not be able to vote the candidate out because they can’t picture having beers with them.

Because culture fit is all about how we feel about another person, it’s a place where unconscious bias lives. It’s those feelings we may have toward people that are different than us that we don’t even realize.

Unfortunately, when a company makes culture fit a top priority, they are also saying that they may or may not care about diversity and inclusion. They’re not necessarily looking for the most qualified candidate. They’re looking for the most popular one.

A Harvard Business Review article said it best. “What most people really mean when they say someone is a good fit culturally is that he or she is someone they’d like to have a beer with. But people with all sorts of personalities can be great at the job you need done. This misguided hiring strategy can also contribute to a company’s lack of diversity, since very often the people we enjoy hanging out with have backgrounds much like our own.”

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


175 | Increasing Diversity | Maya Beasley, T10 Group, Washington, DC

Episode 175 is live! This week, we talk with Maya Beasley in Washington, D.C.

Maya is the Co-Founder of the T10 Group, a diversity consulting group. She is also a Research Professor and the Director of the Diversity 360 Initiative at the University of Maryland. She earned her A.B. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University.

On today’s episode, Maya shares:

  • Her thoughts on whether or not Starbucks recent diversity training will work
  • Why there are still large income gaps between different racial groups, long after the civil rights movement
  • How families impact careers
  • The importance of networking connections and why they matter to diversity

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

To learn more about Maya’s work, visit her website at You can also visit And, you can follow her on Twitter at

Thank YOU for listening! If you’ve enjoyed the show today, don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts! When you subscribe, it helps to make the show easier for other listeners to find — and to get great free job search advice!