What do law firms mean by ‘the right cultural fit’?
One TC seeker needs readers’ advice
In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring solicitor wants to know what law firms mean when they say they’re looking for someone who is “the right cultural fit”.
“Hi everyone, I need your advice regarding the cultural fit. I am applying for training contracts and vacation schemes, getting interviews (I had five in the last recruitment round), but have not been successful in my applications so far.
I received two types of feedback: one that they liked me, but there was just someone a bit better, or two I am just not the right cultural fit for the firm.
Only one firm gave me some useful feedback on how to improve as I was objectively not good enough for them in terms of my technical skills.
It really hurts me to receive not the right fit feedback as I am not sure how I can improve. They do not explain who the right fit IS? Also I think even if they explained, what if those reasons are not something I can change/improve about myself and I might just receive some assassination of my character comments.
Please advise what can I do to fit culturally and what the cultural fit of a City law firm even is?”
“It really hurts me to receive not the right fit feedback as I am not sure how I can improve” a sentence that says much about a pathetic all about me mindset that is gaining traction.
Current demand for individualised feedback is pathetic and shows no grasp of the realities of business or recruitment. Candidates are numerous and many are relatively fungible, so not only is it often very hard to particularise reasons, but if reasons are given they are usually after the event rationalisations to explain a decision.
Feedback is worthless for the firm, costs time and money, and worst of all leads to risks of negative PR from moaning snowflakes or worse boring lawsuit threats.
The only rational business response is “Sorry to inform you we will not be offering you a training contract and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.”
Couldn’t disagree more.
The fact that it bothers you shows that you care about the interviews you are having (which is a good thing!). It’s true in that giving feedback doesn’t benefit the firm in anyway, but if it’s not going to be constructive then it’s a waste of time even giving any in the first place.
Cultural fit is something that the recruiters need to think about when bringing someone new on board and will change from firm to firm and department to department. there is no one answer for how to improve on this, other than be yourself in the interview. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through and avoid sounding too robotic or giving generic answers. The firm are trying to figure out if you would be a good fit for them both technically and personally.
Try researching about the culture at the firms you are interviewing for. Keep a look out for what they do outside of the 9-5. Many firms advertise things like charity work and ‘extra curricular activities’ which can be a real conversation point in an interview.
You will learn, trainee. Just accept for now you know nothing about these issues from the firm-side point of view. And “cultural fit” is just a way to soften “you weren’t good enough”.
Archibald Pomp O'City
“Pathetic” is unnecessarily harsh. “Fungible” is correct. Your oversight is that there are two very different perspectives here, and one is very naive and emotionally invested in their role, while the other is bored and fatigued, needing only to find the right square pegs. You were young once, albeit a long, long time ago. Give the poor kid a break.
Nut Wit Ewe
It is pathetic. These sorts live in an isolated echo chambers which just ramps up their unbelievable sense of entitlement and self-obsession.