Why you should embrace culture add over culture fit in your hiring process

October 25, 2018

Imagine this scenario: you are tasked with hiring an in-house lawyer for your organization.

After a few interviews, you find a promising candidate with the right knowledge and skillset for the position. You and the interview panel are discussing the candidate when someone says, “I’m not sure this person is the right culture fit for us.”


Looking at the right culture fit


The right culture fit is the likelihood a candidate will conform to the collective behaviour that makes up an organization.


You find yourself asking the following questions:

  • Would you grab a drink with the candidate after work?
  • Will the candidate get along with the rest of the team?

While these questions may seem harmless, looking at culture fit this way can be risky.


Pitfalls of hiring for culture fit

When most people ask, ‘is this person the right culture fit it?’, what they really mean is, ‘is this person someone I’d have a beer with?’. The pitfall with the ‘beer test’ is that you end up hiring candidates that exactly mirror yourself or your team, which can lead to unintended discrimination and prevent a diverse workforce.


Adopting the culture fit-focused hiring approach raises some serious questions:

  • Are we using culture fit as an excuse to hire people that are exactly like us?
  • Is our focus on culture fit introducing unconscious bias into our hiring processes?
  • Are we missing out on people that can bring fresh and unique perspectives?

Building you hiring process around culture fit can facilitate bias and lead to a homogenous culture. You end up building an office of like-minded clones who share the same strengths and weaknesses; the resulting team can’t challenge each other and are unable to cultivate innovative, growth-oriented strategies for the business.

Naturally, we all want to hire candidates that are likeable, easy to work with, open to direction, and willing to commit to the team. Nevertheless, always keep in mind that different personalities can succeed in a job. Ideally, you’re looking for someone who is compatible with your team but can also contribute different insights to help your organization deliver better service.

Hiring candidates that simply fit the ‘beer test’ can be insufficient for organizations that are looking for innovation. Beware of hiring people cut from the exact same cloth as your existing team – it could work against what you’re striving to build.


Embracing culture add


Culture add looks at what a candidate brings to the table that will add to your culture and move it in the right direction. This helps select candidates who will thrive within the organization, as well as introduce creative ideas and perspectives. Forward-thinking organizations recognize that innovation requires a culture of diversity to be more effective, creative, and inclusive.

Building a diverse culture requires deliberate effort and commitment. As the hiring manager, you are responsible for hiring mindfully and being aware of your own biases. Making these tweaks to your thought process can open you up to a more diverse pool of candidates.




When we ask, ‘what new things can someone bring to our team?’ or ‘what perspectives are we lacking?’, we open the door to different insights and approaches. We expand our perspectives and invite constructive criticism, which ultimately results in better decision-making.


Culture add is about adding diversity, whereas culture fit can result in a culture of sameness. We should strive for ethnic and gender diversity, as well as diversity of perspectives, interests, generational experience, communication styles, and skillsets.

Admittedly, removing culture fit from your recruitment process won’t automatically eliminate unconscious bias, but it’s a step in the right direction. Ultimately, your hiring strategy should attract candidates that can challenge your team and expose your organization to new ideas.


We recommend adopting an inclusive culture that will set you apart, positively impact employee engagement and performance levels, and increase innovation.


If you are ready to improve how you hire top legal talent and focus on culture add, drop us a note.


The Counsel Network is the leading legal recruitment firm in the Canadian legal market.

Chaaya R. Jugdeb, Recruitment Associate


403.444.1767 / 647.484.8313

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