Diversity & Inclusion

In a Tight Labor Market, Cultural Fit is Essential More than Ever


With the workplace continually evolving, companies should think about hiring for cultural fit as much as or even more than technical skills. Recruiting qualified candidates with the technical skills needed for a specific job is usually the easy part. The hiring managers know the skills and can tell through a compelling interview if they have the technical part of the situation. However, determining how a candidate will fit into the organization’s culture is more challenging. The fit will be missing if a candidate’s values differ from those of the company. Let’s take a look at an example.

A couple of my client's values are enthusiasm and performance excellence. Recruiting incorporates behavioral and attitudinal questions based on our values of enthusiasm and performance. This not only allows us to capture the candidate’s personality but also places emphasis on determining if our cultural values match the candidate’s values. For example, we ask, “Describe what motivates you to do your best every day?” Recruiters listen for answers around “the challenges of my job,” “my boss appreciating our work” or “my coworkers and team.” This gives us a better understanding of what the candidate is looking for in their next career opportunity, and what the organization can offer to that candidate then we have a great potential match. Would you hire someone that answered the question: “waking up,” “gotta eat” or “money?” Yes, we have heard those answers before.

Recruiting also partners with our hiring managers discussing the value of hiring for culture. Each branch and each department has its’ own unique culture, but as mentioned above we share common values, vision, and purpose. The key is determining how the new employee would blend with the current team and match the company’s overall culture. Therefore, our team provides our hiring managers with questions based on our values, and we ask that they develop potential answers to ensure the candidates will fit into the branch/department’s culture.

On the flip side, candidates are beginning to ask a lot of detailed questions about our culture. Your careers site should include a section around company culture including quotes and pictures about employees or videos. Hiring managers should be prepared for questions about the organization’s culture. Job seekers want to find a great place to work just as much as the company wants to ensure they hire the right fit. It is up to the organization’s management to talk about it.

"The challenge - find someone who is a cultural and technical fit."

"The challenge - find someone who is a cultural and technical fit."

Recruiting teams and hiring managers are challenged now more than ever to incorporate cultural fit into potential new hires. If the cultural match isn’t there, employees will just come to work and go through the motions. The employee will feel they are not valued as an employee, nor will they get involved with company activities that make the workplace a fun place to come to daily. Unfortunately, they will end up leaving within six months to a year.

A few other things to consider when recruiting for a cultural fit are, knowing your company and what it stands for, and incorporating those types of questions while interviewing a candidate. Determine which skills are needed and which skills are trainable. Always welcome internal referrals, because who better to know the culture than a current employee?

Remember, hiring someone with the technical skills may help fill a gap for a short-term period, but hiring someone that is a cultural fit will result in long-term success. Cultural knowledge is crucial for a business to survive, and to thrive, within today’s business environment.

Michael Goldberg, the Recruiting Concierge, leads his executive search and talent acquisition advisory services in Dallas.  With over 15 years of experience, contact Michael to see how he can help your organization.


Could Starbucks Avoided Shutting Down for Bias Training?

Screenshot of the Starbucks.com Home Page the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29, 2018    

Screenshot of the Starbucks.com Home Page the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Will I see Starbucks tomorrow or the next day?  I am not a fortune teller, but one thing I will predict:  I do not plan on stepping foot into a Starbucks for any reason – bathroom, meeting someone, ordering coffee, working or whatever else people use Starbucks. The idea:  they are not in alignment with my cultural values and my core values.

Yesterday was the big training day where Starbucks across the United States closed down for racial sensitivity training, unconscious bias training, or whatever you want to call it.  I call it – absolutely and ridiculously crazy.  Starbucks prides itself on diversity and inclusion, so how did this happen? 

While I do not know THE answer, I do know that the situation was preventable.  Here are a few of my thoughts.

1.    They may not be interviewing to ensure all candidates understand their values and core beliefs.  I say “may” because I have not seen or been through an interview process with Starbucks.  When looking at Starbucks’ core values, the one that stands out is “Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.”

My question to the CHRO and SVP of Talent Acquisition is: Were you having district managers and store managers asking questions related to this core value? If the answer is no, know this:  This is on both of you as well as the entire Human Resources staff across the country. As Human Resources professionals, it is up to us to ensure we hire talent at all levels that align with the company’s culture and values. 

I saw on the National News that store employees went through appropriate training  – as a store discussing the scenarios that occurred over the last two months, understanding why it was wrong, openly talking about biases and have everyone involved in creating a store culture that all store employees can live/breathe by.  It will be interesting to see how all levels of employees will use the modules going forward.


dont walk.jpg

Common Sense isn't always so common anymore.

2.    Why did policy overrule common sense?  While I understand why HR and Stores have specific rules, they should be used as a guideline not the be all end all. Unfortunately, I have seen quite a few policies in my time.  My favorite policy of all time was with a major airline.  It read: “Do not operate a plane unless Flight Operations have formally trained you.” Would I love to fly a jet plane?  Yes!  Would I do it without the proper knowledge and training?  No.  This policy made me laugh each time I read it because common sense tells me I shouldn’t fly a plane unless I know how.  As it relates to the Starbucks situation, shouldn’t common sense come in to play?  Two people sit down at Starbucks waiting for someone to arrive.  BFD.  How many times have you seen people sit down without ordering anything waiting on a friend, an interviewer, or a colleague?  I have witnessed many a time in Starbucks all over the U.S. How many times have you walked into Starbucks to use the restroom without buying something?  Only you know that answer, but I would imagine most of you have done this.  I have. Common sense says do not impose rules as Starbucks did that can facilitate situations as Starbucks experienced.

Policies are like computers. They make our lives more comfortable, but neither have common sense “programmed” when it comes to a situation.  My thought is we need to use more common sense in the workplace when it comes to decision making.

3.    Why are we still talking about racial bias and related training in the workforce today - not a rhetorical question? I genuinely do not understand the action the store manager took. I do not know what motivated Roseanne Barr to make discriminatory remarks that led to ABC canceling her show.  I do not understand how in today’s world with information at our fingertips still say, write/tweet with discriminatory remarks or take the wrong action based on a person’s skin color. 

We can jump to conclusions about what led to the required training at Starbucks, but we would be inserting our own unconscious bias, and that is not right. 

Take a moment to let me know what you think about whether Starbucks did the right thing or what they could have done to prevent “the shutdown” yesterday.