Comments on The Imbalance of Culture Fit

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  1. Really appreciated this article Matt, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences.

    I’m really encouraged the more I’m seeing these types of posts. And to be honest though, there’s definitely the concern for me that the topic of diversity is in some ways a “trend” or “fad” or clever marketing ploy. I get a little bit cynical whenever I see the topic within tech, especially by larger tech organizations, but I’d also like to think it becomes pretty clear as one keeps speaking on the topic, whether or not it’s genuinely important to ‘em.

    To be fair to authors like yourself making the effort, I think the cynicism I sometimes get on my end, while having some merit based on realities around us, can also get in the way of me recognizing positive progress and some folks attempts at building bridges and making more inviting spaces within the industry. That being said, your post def resonated with me. You made a LOT of great points that I very much agree with and was very appreciative to see expressed!

    Thank you again, I look forward to reading more from you in the future

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  2. Thank you Matt, this was a thoughtful and thought-provoking article.

    In the past, I’ve been a candidate for positions with small firms who let their current staff have the final say on who got interviewed and made an offer.

    I’m sure the impulse was from the right place, wanting to have a culture “fit.” But my sense is that places that use that approach end up hiring clones of themselves. In the digital space, that seems to be 20- and 30-something white males, with a tiny sprinkle of youngish women and perhaps one person of color, but no one middle aged.

    Age bias is a serious societal issue, not just in tech but in the American workplace over all. Post crash, there are thousands of 50-somethings who became unhirable and were forced to take early retirement. What a waste of human talent.

    So thank you, and A List Apart, for this article. The more we talk about it, the more we look at our own biases, the better off all of our workplaces will be!

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  3. Great thoughts, especially for people making hiring decisions. It can be so easy to forget that even if we’re not necessarily acting on bias, others in the industry are, so giving women or minorities a chance in tech can go a long way in closing that gap.

    I do disagree that hiring for a cultural fit is a bad thing, but I think that’s mainly a nominal difference: if diversity becomes an intentional part of office culture, it can be a very healthy thing. It’s not a disagreement with your logic so much as the assumption that the hiring manager is the culture. However you phrase it, though, your thoughts are important for any team leader to consider. Great read.

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  4. Fantastic article, great explanation of the problem.

    Thanks Matt and ALA!

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  5. I liked reading your article and intuitively it all feels right, promoting diversity and embracing people who are not semi-clones of yourself. But you need to be aware that you’re still very exclusive with the criteria you apply.

    Consider that many autistic people may not come out very well from a conversation/interview with you due to a perceived lack of empathy, difficulties in managing themselves and their time, sometimes awkward communication habits - but actually would be very committed team members who work extremely hard and offer sometimes radically different perspectives and solutions to problems (the diversity of approach you look for).

    I think your culture agnostic questions could be revised to take this into account. Rather than expect someone to tick these somewhat superficial boxes, be prepared to help non-typical team members with some of their difficulties of settling in and in return benefit from their specific and unique skills.

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  6. Nice article. Strayed a bit from the main focus of culture fit and jobs, and got a little preachy towards the end.

    However, I am going to try and highlight the values I bring to new employers. Could be a good differentiating strategy for job applicants.

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  7. An excellent message, though I do worry that the message can too readily be over-simplified to “diversity == productivity”, leading to another set of pathologies. For example, hiring someone who only speaks Mandarin Chinese to join a team that only speaks Swahili will certainly increase the team’s diversity, but I would not expect that diversity to translate into increased productivity, no matter how effectively the individual team members communicate in their native language.

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  8. Fantastic article, great explanation of the problem.

    Thanks Matt and ALA!

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  9. I think you’re misunderstanding the concept of “culture” as it applies to the workplace.

    You said:
    “Are they kind and empathetic? Do they care about their work? Do they have good communication skills? Do they have good self-management skills?”

    This is because your workplace culture values those things. Not every workplace culture does. Some value speed and efficiency over quality for example. Others value management driven imperatives vs. community sourced solutions.

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  10. Thanks Matt,

    I covered some similar areas in a recent article of mine on tech privilege - https://hackernoon.com/tech-your-privilege-at-the-door-5d8da0c41c6b#.emmrkwg40

    but you went deeper into a couple of topics that had also been mulling in my mind. Let’s hope that talking about them will mean change.

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  11. It sounds a lot like what we are doing in Lunar Logic for a few years now. You can read a blogpost on our hiring process here: http://blog.lunarlogic.io/2016/how-we-hire/

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  12. Matt, as others have said, thank you. I appreciate the wisdom and insight. Diversity is absolutely key and I think finding people with different passions (centrally focused of course) is also crucial to team building. People really do make the culture as opposed to a space or location.

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