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"Not a fit" is another way of saying "We don't like you" in a strange way.

I stay far away from those sweeping personality statements personally.

"Not a fit" can get dangerously close to "You're not the same gender/race/orientation/age-range as our core team" (especially if that happens to be true).

Yes that is a super tricky one and especially since cultural fit is probably one of the most important things to consider in the hiring process!!

Can you elaborate on what you consider cultural fit and why it is so important?

"cultural fit" is a rather awful description of a hundred small factors, some legitimate and some not.

Sometimes it refers to statements like "commit early, commit often" or "move fast and break things"; that's fine. Sometimes it refers to office interaction, such as whether you tolerate interruptions and social interaction: an introvert in an office full of extroverts or an extrovert in an office full of introverts; that's fine too, though at some point you'll scale large enough that you can't necessarily keep being that selective.

On the other hand, sometimes it means "are you going to play foosball with us and drink with us", which is wrong. And sometimes it means "do you have exactly the same personality/likes/dislikes/ethnicity/gender/etc as us", which is wrong and illegal.

In general, "cultural fit" is a dangerously vague excuse without a concrete reason. Say what you really mean, and if you can't bring yourself to say it, perhaps you shouldn't be using it as a hiring criteria.

Or... you're not a potential drinking buddy. ;)


Believe it or not, I was actually asked if I liked to drink. And I don't really drink.

So, were you offered the job?

Which is why I try to avoid all types of personal questions as much as possible. I do not want to take if you like squash or knitting or beer into account when I evaluate you as a potential hire. So if i don't know, it can't subconsciously affect my opinion of you. I am interested in your job performance.

I specifically meant the prohibited criteria, though I suppose as not drinking could be due to health or religion, it's also in a grey area... Could you sue someone for not hiring you because you don't fit in at the frat house?

Agreed, and I do as well. When a client asks me to relay a rejection due to "not a fit", I always ask for anything we can offer that would be useful to the candidate.

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