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Culture Fit and Coulomb’s Law

By: mprinz Friday March 11, 2016 comments

Culture FitHave you ever known two people who were similar in nature but couldn’t get along? There’s a name for that, Coulomb’s Law. To put it simply: likes repel, opposites attract. Interestingly enough, the common practice in HR is to filter in the likes – those who fit the culture. 

So what is culture fit? It’s the collective work environment including the atmosphere, philosophies, ideals, ideas and actions of a business and its workers. Think of it as the shared make-up of a company. 

By determining culture fit in theory, employees will thrive, get along and be committed. Some believe it’s more important to hire someone who fits the bill than to test for skills because skills can be trained.                                        

culture fit = job satisfaction + employee stability + retention 

Losing an employee has a snowball effect and impacts businesses of all sizes. There’s a bunch of expenses associated with sourcing someone new including recruiting, training and loss of productivity. Not to mention overtime may need to be paid to employees who pick up the slack. According to SHRM, “…direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50-60% of an employee’s annual salary.” Who wouldn’t want to reduce turnover? But how do you test for culture fit?                                    

In the old days, it involved asking questions in an interview like:

  1. Why do you want to work here?
  2. Tell me about a time you had to adapt to change.
  3. What kind of environment do you thrive in?


Now there’s instaTalent Culture-fit, a careers unbound product - powered by IBM Watson*. This new approach deviates from the traditional Q & A process. Instead, it scrapes the Internet collecting everything about the candidate it can find searching places like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. It looks for likes and dislikes, questionnaires and writing samples. The data is then compiled, scrubbed and collated by algorithms that match the right candidates to the personality and culture of a company. And what you get is a lot more time in your day and a list of “good fits”. Some would say the proof is in the pudding. It’s hard to fake this kind of data. But does it work? 

How important is culture fit when choosing your employees?

Should Coulomb’s Law be considered when hiring?


Call us at innotrieve. We’d like to hear what you think.

*More on IBM Watson

 To be continued…

About the Author: mprinz