Quora Answer: When people at tech companies or startups in Silicon Valley refer to “cultural fit” with a company, what exactly do they mean?

I originally wrote this as an answer to a question on Quora.

It’s code for “is this person like us”. That almost always means that the company lacks diversity in any form. Most of the employees tend to look the same, have similar backgrounds, and similar interests. In tech that usually means white males under 40, but that’s not always the case. It could be all Indian males under 40.

While this may lead to increased harmony and fewer conflicts, it’s also a terrible form of laziness. Companies that emphasize cultural fit will tend to be terribly deficient in HR and likely be inept at interacting with people who aren’t just like them (including customers). It’s basically a cop-out for those who can’t be bothered to make the effort to be inclusive and learn to work with people who are different.

Most places that emphasize cultural fit bear a striking resemblance to fraternity houses. That’s not my thing and I’d rather work with grownups who make an effort to function within the context of the rest of the world rather than creating their own isolated little bubbles of groupthink. I also learn more from people who aren’t just like me.