GUEST POST – Insight of a Former Intern: The Cultural Fit

August 9, 2012 in 10gen, Community Internship, Guest Post, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Networking, Technology

I’d like to welcome James Chesters to IOAI.com – James is EMEA Community Marketing Manager for 10gen and has a professional background across marketing, PR and journalism. He is also a freelance adventurer, a writer and a social media fanboy. In this post James touches upon the issue of ‘cultural fit‘.

Adventurer James trekking the Arctic with sled dogs

I have had interviews in the past. A lot of interviews. More interviews than you could shake a stick at — however hard you might try.

I have had panel interviews and group interviews. I’ve had telephone interviews, in-person interviews and Skype interviews. I’ve met everyone in companies that you would expect to meet, and probably a few that you wouldn’t. You learn something every time.

But over the years the most elusive part of any interview or hiring process is the question of cultural fit. Any time that you are turned down for a position that you really want can be disappointing, but to be told ambiguously about cultural fit can be especially frustrating.

What any intern or aspiring high flier must realise is that cultural fit is extremely important — and I don’t just mean if the company you are meeting thinks you will fit with them. It is equally important, perhaps even more important, that you work out for yourself what the company’s culture and attitude is like — and make an objective decision about if you truly think you will belong there.

The most important thing you can do in an interview — or rather, one of the most important, for there are enough to fill an entire blog with — is ask questions.

Ask questions about the role, ask questions about duties, ask questions about what you can do to really make a difference to the company. Ask questions about who the company are looking for, ask questions about the company culture. Ask questions about what they enjoy in their own jobs.

The trick here is not to try and make yourself the “ideal candidate” — you can’t “fake it til you make it”. The goal here is not to try and mirror any characteristics you might think they are looking for. This is your opportunity to decide if this is the right place for you. And sometimes, it won’t be. And you know what? Here’s a secret: That’s OK.

This is no worse than the company deciding you aren’t the right fit for them. You won’t be right for every job in the world, you won’t even be right for every job in the world you are qualified to do. That doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough — just as you choose your friends, or choose your dates, you might like the company but not feel you could fit in with the team. You might like the people but not feel you could represent the company.

Cultural fit is about making sure everything fits. It’s not about the high profile, and it’s not about money and popularity. Although, some money is nice. But it’s a voice that says, “Here I am…”

2 thoughts on “GUEST POST – Insight of a Former Intern: The Cultural Fit

  1. […] the need to curate an enjoyable environment, and an attempt to cultivate a healthy company culture (read more about that here). It’s the little things that make life worthwhile, and in 10gen those include jeans, […]

  2. […] the need to curate an enjoyable environment, and an attempt to cultivate a healthy company culture (read more about that here). It’s the little things that make life worthwhile, and in 10gen those include jeans, popcorn, […]

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GUEST POST – Insight of a Former Intern: The Cultural Fit

August 9, 2012 in 10gen, Community Internship, Guest Post, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Networking, Technology

I’d like to welcome James Chesters to IOAI.com – James is EMEA Community Marketing Manager for 10gen and has a professional background across marketing, PR and journalism. He is also a freelance adventurer, a writer and a social media fanboy. In this post James touches upon the issue of ‘cultural fit‘.

Adventurer James trekking the Arctic with sled dogs

I have had interviews in the past. A lot of interviews. More interviews than you could shake a stick at — however hard you might try.

I have had panel interviews and group interviews. I’ve had telephone interviews, in-person interviews and Skype interviews. I’ve met everyone in companies that you would expect to meet, and probably a few that you wouldn’t. You learn something every time.

But over the years the most elusive part of any interview or hiring process is the question of cultural fit. Any time that you are turned down for a position that you really want can be disappointing, but to be told ambiguously about cultural fit can be especially frustrating.

Read the rest of this entry →

Share your thoughts on this issue