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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Reinersman

Cultural Fit: Fitting In At Work Takes Work

Updated: May 27, 2020

The number of writings on cultural fit seems to evince the value of the concept of “fit” in the world of work. But what exactly is that value and how can it be best employed by career services professionals? Perhaps research, practice and time will reveal the truth. ~ David M. Reile, Ph.D.

FOCUS ON: What is Fit?

A match with organizational values? Ability to get along with clients? Having fun with the interviewers? Pure chemistry? A match with diversity goals? Because the definition of “fit” determines who will get hired (which depends on who is doing the hiring), it is tough to predict on-the-job success. Knowing that too much similarity leads to poor decisions, how can interviewers come up with a valid definition of “fit”? Read more.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: When a Student Doesn’t Fit in a Chosen Field

Selective admissions requirements may cause college students to be denied entry into competitive pre-professional programs. Career advisors involved in the student’s transition to a new career may recognize some of the stages of grief in the student’s behavior. Allowing time for grief comes first, then read more ways career advisors can assist students.

YOUR LIBRARY: Sizing Up People’s Personalities

When “fitting in” is about communicating more effectively, learning to use the power of personality type may be the answer. Tieger and Barron-Tieger’s book, “The Art of SpeedReading People: How to Size People Up and Speak Their Language” (1999) can help workers recognize cues for various types then interact with others based on type.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: Who is an Expert on Cultural Fit?

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) awarded the distinction of Fellow to Dr. Zeynep Aycan (Koc University, Turkey). Dr. Aycan “advanced a highly influential model of cultural fit, illustrating the role of cultural variables and noncultural variables and their impact on HRM practices.” Read more about Dr. Aycan on the SIOP website or in the Conversation with Experts by the Sloan Work and Family Research Network.

TOP TEN: Be Aware of Common Interview Problems

Often cultural fit is determined in the interview, which itself is a “flawed” tool in HR. Out of this list of the “Top 50 Most Common Interview Problems”, how many do you think can be attributed to “cultural fit” issues? Number 3 “interview questions not directly related to needed skills”? Or Number 10 “non-job related factors influence decisions”? See all 50.


At the beginning of the journey to the next world, one’s education and culture can either provide the greatest assistance, or else act as the greatest burden. - Plato
I want the culturals of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. - Mahatma Gandhi


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