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Culture Add

What is culture add?

Culture add represents a strategic approach in Human Resources and organizational development, emphasizing the value of hiring individuals who not only align with the company’s existing culture but actively contribute to and enhance it.

Unlike the traditional concept of “culture fit,” which focuses on assimilation into the pre-existing culture, culture add seeks to identify candidates who bring new dimensions, perspectives, and skills that complement and enrich the organizational culture

Examples of culture add

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • A candidate strongly aligns with your company’s focus on teamwork and collaboration but has a more introverted and reflective personality compared to the extroverted and outspoken nature of the existing team.
  • A candidate values the organization’s agile and adaptable work environment, yet they exhibit a meticulous and detailed-oriented planning style, unlike the team’s preference for spontaneity and flexibility.
  • A candidate aligns with the organization’s focus on teamwork and collaboration but brings a unique self-starting, independent work style, differing from the team’s tendency for constant collaboration.

These examples demonstrate that adding individuals with distinct perspectives and values to an organization does not detract from its core culture. Instead, these unique contributions enrich the workplace environment, making it more dynamic, inclusive, and innovative.

Culture fit vs. culture add: The differences

The concepts of “culture fit” and “culture add” represent two different approaches to evaluating potential hires within the context of an organization’s culture. Here’s how they differ:

Culture fit
Culture add


Refers to the extent to which an individual aligns with the existing core values, norms, and behaviors of an organization.

Refers to the extent to which an individual contributes new perspectives, skills, and dynamics that enrich the existing organizational culture.


Conformity to existing culture.

Diversity and enhancement of existing culture.


To maintain harmony and reduce conflict by ensuring new hires mesh well with the current team.

To innovate and grow by introducing new ideas, perspectives, and problem-solving approaches.


– Simplifies integration of new employees.
– Maintains a cohesive work environment.

– Encourages diversity and inclusion.
– Drives innovation and adaptability.
– Broadens the team’s skill set and perspectives.


– May limit diversity of thought.
– Potentially stifles innovation and change.
– Risks creating a homogeneous workforce.

– Could lead to an initial culture clash.
– May require more effort in integration and management.
– Potentially disrupts existing work dynamics.

Selection criteria

Candidates who demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs similar to those within the organization.

Candidates who bring unique qualities that are deemed valuable for the organization’s growth and innovation, even if they differ from the current norm.

The key differences between culture add and culture fit.

Culture add interview questions

Hiring for culture add means looking beyond the candidate’s ability to fit into the current company culture and focusing on what new and diverse perspectives they can bring to the organization. Here are some interview questions designed to uncover a candidate’s potential as a culture add: 

1. Can you tell us about a time when your idea or approach differed from the team’s and how you handled it?

This question helps identify candidates who are not afraid to offer unique perspectives and can constructively contribute to diversity of thought.

2. How do you adapt to changes or new situations in the workplace?

This question assesses the candidate’s adaptability and openness to change, which is crucial for integrating into and contributing to a new culture.

3. What unique skills or perspectives do you believe you could bring to our team?

This question directly addresses what the candidate sees as their unique contribution, encouraging them to reflect on how they can enhance the existing culture.

4. How would you react to receiving constructive feedback on a task you believed was well executed?

This question gauges a candidate’s openness to growth and their ability to positively integrate constructive feedback, highlighting their potential to contribute to a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability.

Case study: Patagonia

At Patagonia, Dean Carter, the HR chief, has revolutionized their hiring process by emphasizing “culture add” over traditional “culture fit.” His innovative approach involves meticulously evaluating resumes for hobbies and volunteering, particularly valuing environmental activism.

This hiring strategy aligns with Patagonia’s commitment to environmental causes while ensuring the team comprises individuals with varied backgrounds and perspectives. It reflects a deliberate move away from the conventional “culture fit” paradigm, promoting innovation and inclusivity within the organization.

How to hire with culture add in mind: Tips for HR

When hiring with culture add in mind, you can boost your recruiting strategy by focusing on several key practices:

  1. Identify gaps in diversity of thought and experience: Look for areas within your team or organization where new hires could introduce diversity of thought, experience, or background. This might involve seeking candidates with different industry knowledge, innovative problem-solving approaches, or experiences that are currently underrepresented in your team.
  2. Value soft skills and emotional intelligence: Recognize the importance of soft skills and emotional intelligence in contributing to a positive and evolving company culture. Candidates who excel in communication, empathy, and teamwork can significantly enhance team dynamics and company morale.
  3. Incorporate culture add into job descriptions and employer branding: Clearly articulate its value in job descriptions and your employer branding. This attracts candidates who are not just looking for a job but are eager to contribute to and grow with the company’s culture.
  4. Use structured interviews to assess culture add potential: Implement structured interviews with specific questions designed to gauge how candidates might contribute uniquely to the company culture. This approach helps to evaluate culture add potential among candidates objectively.
  5. Promote an inclusive culture that welcomes diverse contributions: Ensure that your organizational culture is genuinely inclusive and open to diverse contributions. This supports the integration of new hires who are culture adds and encourages existing employees to share and develop unique perspectives.

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