SmartRecruiters Hiring Success Journal’s Psychology of Cultural Fit

The world of work has changed with the coming of age of Generation Y. The research of organisational psychologists and the life experience of people in business coincide on this point: people these days want more from their jobs than a way to pay the bills. For those of us lucky enough to choose what we do and how we work, there is an increasing focus on the job as a personal identity: an integration between what we do, and who we are.

This is why people move around more than ever before. The rise of the Internet has made the world bigger – not smaller – for most people have access to more opportunities, more examples of how fulfilling life can be, than ever before. We want jobs that reflect our values, satisfy our needs, fit with our priorities. We want to work in a company we can be proud of and feel part of – a workplace that reflects our own unique personality.

This is the essence of cultural fit. If we identify with the organisation we work for, we will be more willing to commit our best efforts to to its success, and we’ll be happier and more fulfilled in the process. Everybody wins.

At, we highlight the critical importance of cultural fit as a response to the growing desire for people to feel more at home at work. We used a highly concentrated, deceptively simple set of
questions to quickly and accurate assess two things: an individual’s workplace personality, and their ideal organisational culture. We take the pulse of companies – 400 of them in our database so far – based on eight unique archetypes, each constructed from a pattern of factors (such as innovation, competitiveness, and structure). Company Types

In our system, companies are assigned to one of our eight archetypes based on their ‘personality’ – derived from crowd sourced consumer attitudes towards each company – layered with functional attributes such as size, age, and behaviour.  Over time, as employees from companies take our surveys, the intelligent algorithm adapts the classification to take account of new information.

Why eight archetypes? Broadly, this was considered to be the most efficient way to reflect the possible variations between companies based on longstanding models of the most crucial elements in defining company culture – competitiveness versus collaboration, innovation versus traditionalism, and flexible versus hierarchical structure.

Consider these personal and company archetype examples:

The case of a highly innovative, scientifically minded, introverted person with an ideological approach (an Inventor-Idealist in’s language); call her Sparky. Sparky would be happiest in a Space Colony environment – flexible, innovative, and collaborative. She can then seek out companies which fit the Space Colony profile, such as Amazon, Apple, or Google. In this culture Sparky will find a supportive environment which will encourage her creativity and allow her to thrive. Going to work will become a pleasure.

Then consider the case of a highly ambitious, detail-oriented pragmatist who thrives on competition (a Straight-Shooter-Technician). Call him Topgun. Topgun learns that he would work best in a Frontier Settler company – highly competitive, with a traditional, methodical business model – such as Adobe or Samsung. Topgun shoots straight to the top in this ideal culture.

What would happen if, by some misadventure, Sparky ended up working in a Frontier Settler company, and Topgun in a Space Colony? Sparky would feel threatened by the highly competitive environment; her creativity would be stifled. Topgun would find his drive and leadership skills frustrated by the lack of an obvious ladder to climb in a Space Colony; his pragmatic caution would make hyper-creative brainstorming sessions a source of exasperation. Neither Sparky nor Topgun would reach their full potential; their unique contributions would be overlooked, their individuality stifled.

This kind of frustration shouldn’t happen to anyone! Discover what company culture you would thrive in.


Kerry SchofieldKerry Schofield is Chief Psychometrics Officer at and visiting researcher at King London’s College. SmartRecruiters Blog readers can use access code “goodcosmart” to get early access to our private beta. Find out if you’re in Good Company!

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform, everything you need to source talent, engage candidates, and make the right hires.


Kerry Schofield

Kerry Schofield is Chief Psychometrics Officer at and visiting researcher at King London’s College. SmartRecruiters Blog readers can use access code “goodcosmart” to get early access to our private beta. Find out if you’re in Good Company!

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