Recruiting for Startups: Cultural Fit More Important than Money to Retain Talents

Employers and employees see cultural fit as the most important criteria when it comes to hiring or joining a company – making it even more important than the salary, according to recruiting experts Hays.

According to Hays, candidates have been turning down jobs where they didn’t think there was a cultural link between them and the company, be it an entrepreneurial attitude, the proper work/life balance, creativity or how they communicate with others.

Employers meanwhile are considering not only a candidate’s technical skills but their cultural and team fit.

“We have seen many cases where an employer will train a candidate in the necessary technical skills if they are otherwise the right cultural fit for a business,” says Chris Mead, Regional Director of Hays in Malaysia and Singapore. “These candidates usually go on to enjoy long-term tenure with the employer.

“There are countless cases where a potential candidate may look impressive on their resume and excel in the required technical skills, but ultimately fails to fit in with the team or align with the organisation’s way of doing business, its values and its belief system.

“In these cases, their actual on-the-job behaviour is inconsistent with the values and expectations of the team they are working in and the organisation as a whole. They are not able to make the best possible contribution and this can be costly to the organisation.

“By considering not only a candidate’s technical skills but their cultural and team fit, an organisation is far more likely to get recruitment right the first time. They avoid a mismatch between the candidate and the organisation.”

Tips for employers

According to Hays, in most cases employers are assessing cultural fit by a solid series of behavioural interview questions. “Behavioural interviews allow you to see how a candidate approaches various work situations and whether their behaviour matches the way your organisation conducts business.  You can also then see if the candidate’s attitudes and behaviours are shared by your business.

“We have also seen cases of role plays being used for suitable vacancies such as customer service or sales. Trial periods, or even an invitation to a team dinner or function, are other successful strategies to help you assess potential cultural fit.”

Tips for candidates

To prepare for an interview, Hays advise candidates to research the organisation to gain an understanding of their values and way of doing business. Then think about examples in your working history that illustrate how your way of operating matches the employer’s. Use examples that demonstrate the fit between your own values and attitudes and those of the organisation.

While your technical skills and experience are of course important to get your foot in the door, Hays says it is your ability to sell your alignment to the company’s values that will demonstrate your cultural fit in an interview.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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About Hays

Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. We are the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in Asia Pacific and the UK and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. We operate across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.


As at 31 December 2011, Hays employed 7,988 staff operating from 247 offices in 31 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2011, Hays reported net fees of £672 million and operating profit of £114 million and placed around 60,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 190,000 people into temporary assignments. 31% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific.


Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the United Kingdom and the USA.