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The Importance of Culture Fit in Startup Hiring


Working with various startups over the past few years, from CyberSecurity to Blockchain to e-commerce and online Retail, I’ve come to recognize common characteristics with regard to startup culture, mindset, and the hiring considerations one should be mindful of when building out foundational teams. 

When we talk about a company’s culture we are referring to the shared values, attitudes, behaviors, and standards that contribute to the experience people have at work and how that experience aligns with the external brand of the company.  

And while culture and employer value propositions (EVPs) are always critical components of attracting top performers, other factors such as market stability, financial health, and job function congruity also play a pragmatic role in the prospective employer vetting process by most job seekers. 

Conversely, when a start-up company begins its hiring journey, they are often engaging the talent market without the assurances that come with market stability, financial health, and job function predictability.  

Your differentiator as a start-up really comes down to defining who you are as a company, what is important to you, why you believe wholeheartedly in your mission, and especially, why others should want to be a part of the journey. Without the safety net of an established track record and the durability of a mature company, defining your culture and culture fit becomes critical to the foundation and sustainable growth of your start-up business.  

Consider the following start-up characteristics when engaging candidates: 

Characteristics of a Startup Culture Mindset  


Candidates who depend on a charted route to the end goal are great, as they are usually highly organized and predictable in nature. But in a start-up, the road ahead is not always visible; someone with a start-up mindset anticipates, accepts the detours and delays, and will adapt to the new course, even outside their comfort zone, finding opportunities amidst perceived roadblocks.  


This type of individual brings so much to the table for a company in growth mode. They see their objectives as their own and will explore possible revenue streams to help expand the business.  


Those who seek to learn from, as much as they are willing to share with others promote a cross-functional understanding of the business and how teams interrelate and rely on each other to achieve success as a team. They see the needs, objectives, and challenges of others; adjust their efforts to be more helpful to others; and measure and hold themselves accountable for the impact of their work on others. 


These are the candidates who have invested the time exploring the company and its products or services and are eager to talk about alignment with their own experience and aspirations. 

Show candidates they belong

Defining your start-up’s culture fit can make way for a recruitment marketing strategy with far greater impact by allowing the talent you need, to envision how they belong within the organization. Skills and experience are top considerations, but it’s those candidates with the start-up mindset that will drive your business forward and elevate those around them. 

This post was written by Tim Gorewich, Head of Talent Acquisition at Zenni Optical



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