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Culture fit

 
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There was a post on LinkedIn, where a guy who works at LinkedIn itself was saying that companies should clearly define what their cultural values are, and then hire people that meet that requirement. So he stated that one of the cultural values at LinkedIn was having humour.

I find the whole concept of "culture fit" quite disturbing.I am an introvert, I have difficulty socialising with people, but this has never stopped me from doing my work, I went for a job interview last year (for a role that required client-facing), I passed all the tests and passed them well (aptitude, technical etc), I had most of the skills, but I got rejected because the interviewer said I didn't appear confident enough! I also went for an interview in Cambridge in 2006, did very well in the tests, but got rejected (no reason given), but I know why, the company had a culture of everyone going out to the pub most nights a week (the interviewer told me this himself), and I, being an introvert, didn't fit in.

I'm not bitter here and making excuses, I was once rejected for a job because I failed the aptitude test, fair enough, but I don't think it's fair to reject someone because of all this fitting in nonsense. If someone has the skills to do the job, has integrity, and seems like a helpful and respectful person, why should any of this other business matter? I hate that everyone is always being told to "fit in", what's wrong with being "different"?
 
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I think fitting in as in "getting along" is indeed important. Joining in extra activities like pub nights should be optional, and thus not part of it. Dealing with customers/clients is a different skill than development, and not everyone has it, but if it's required for a certain position that's something you have to accept.
 
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Tim Moores wrote:Dealing with customers/clients is a different skill than development, and not everyone has it, but if it's required for a certain position that's something you have to accept.



I would argue that "dealing with customers" is sometimes a harder skill to find, than technical skills. This is why, in certain companies, customer facing tasks are not just assigned evenly to all the engineers, or even assigned to the junior engineers (or engineers as punishment). In many companies, customer facing tasks are assigned to senior staff, with lots of experience in supporting customers.

Henry
 
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"Fitting in" and "Cultural values" sound like good ideas, and often they are good ideas. But they can be used as ways to exclude people who aren't your old high school buddies (or worse, as code words for discrimination which might be illegal). "Cultural diversity" is also a good idea.
 
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In my personal experience, "not a good cultural fit" is a euphemism for "too old".
 
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Bear Bibeault wrote:In my personal experience, "not a good cultural fit" is a euphemism for "too old".


If there was a forum button for "dislike, but agree with" I would press it now.
 
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As an example of how "cultural fit" does make sense, I work at a bank where there is a lot of security. If someone insists he should be allowed to use his own computer to write work code, work from 10pm-6am and blast loud music on the floor, I think we would all agree he is a lousy cultural fit. This is an extreme of course.
 
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Tim Moores wrote:I think fitting in as in "getting along" is indeed important.



Sure, but you can get on with others professionally without being part of the crowd.

Henry Wong wrote:[
I would argue that "dealing with customers" is sometimes a harder skill to find, than technical skills.



You see, this is where I would disagree with you. If you're polite, respectful, helpful, and good at listening, you can deal with customers. I think most people have these skills.

Yet somehow lots of people seem to believe in this myth that to deal with customers you have to be confident and good at speaking etc - like the guy who rejected me because I wasn't "confident enough".
Sure, you need confidence and the ability to speak well for certain jobs - like a salesperson. You do not need this for a Technical Consultant role. I am really terrible at speaking, I just pause, I end up mumbling, I am not confident - yet in one of my previous jobs, I went and gave presentations at client sites and held workshops with clients and taught them things, and I always got on just fine, and clients liked me - because I was always respectful and helpful.

Paul Clapham wrote:"Cultural diversity" is also a good idea.



Yes.

Bear Bibeault wrote:In my personal experience, "not a good cultural fit" is a euphemism for "too old".



Exactly. And in most cases, it won't be that you are too old to do the job, but too old to be "part of the crowd". And that's my point, who cares whether or not you will be socialising with everyone else, if you can do the job well, that is all that should matter.

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:As an example of how "cultural fit" does make sense, I work at a bank where there is a lot of security. If someone insists he should be allowed to use his own computer to write work code, work from 10pm-6am and blast loud music on the floor, I think we would all agree he is a lousy cultural fit. This is an extreme of course.



You seem to be blurring the line between culture fit and rules that are needed for the business.

For example, using your own personal laptop is a security risk, and so this should be part of the contract the employee signs.
Also, blasting loud music will distract other people. I temped in warehouses and factories when I was a student, blasting loud music was the norm because you don't need to concentrate for those jobs - in fact, the work was so mundane that you probably needed something like loud music to make the day pass quicker! I also tempted in a finance office, they also blasted loud music, but again, you don't really need to concentrate for the work they were doing. For IT it's different, if you're writing code and someone is blasting music, it will distract you - well, it will distract me at least.
Working hours and dress code should again be part of the rules and should be pointed out to the candidate during the interview stage. Some companies might want to project an image of themselves to their clients and therefore expect staff to dress in a certain way.

The problem starts arising when people are accepted or rejected on things that do not affect a business. So someone is rejected because everyone likes going to the pub most evenings but this person won't. Or everyone is loud and jokes around but this person is quiet. Or, this person is an Orthodox Jew and dresses differently but everyone in the company is secular. I think this is wrong.
 
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Ahmed Bin S wrote:

Henry Wong wrote:I would argue that "dealing with customers" is sometimes a harder skill to find, than technical skills.


You see, this is where I would disagree with you. If you're polite, respectful, helpful, and good at listening, you can deal with customers. I think most people have these skills.


There's more to it than that. Handling a client means being able to adopt their point of view in addition to your own, understanding their actual needs (as opposed to what they think their needs are), telling them when they're wrong, being able to take into account whatever company politics may go on at their place, and more. One might call this "being helpful to the client", but it is a lot more than what is generally meant by "being helpful".
 
Henry Wong
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Tim Moores wrote:
There's more to it than that. Handling a client means ...



Totally agree. Anyone who thinks that "dealing with clients" is a skill that can be qualified (nice, respectful, confident, blah, blah, blah, etc.), is probably not good at it. Heck, most of the time, I don't think that I am good at it...

I still remember years ago, with one client, that always made a mess of everything. He wasn't really annoying, but working with him was always like "pulling teeth". Never got complete information. Never included the right people. And always bought into situations late, when everything was already on fire.

It got to the point that when I had a chance to meet him at a trade show, for a "conversation", I took it. It was my chance to "let him have it". And at the end of the day, it worked.... or to be honest, at the time, I wasn't sure. There is only so much you can conclude, at 2 am, after going through 3 bottles of wine, and talking about practically everything else but what you had planned to talk about.

... but ... it did work. The relationship was much better. It become much much easier supporting this client. And most importantly, the client was much happier.

Henry
 
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