Focus on Fit

While many employers have always focused on fit during interviews, it has become increasingly important.  It is expensive and time-consuming to lay off someone who isn’t working out.  It is much better to spend a little more time in the interviewing process to ensure that you are making the best possible hire.  There are many qualified candidates for most jobs so it is critical to find the candidate with the appropriate skills, education and experience, who also fits the organization.  The individual needs to fit the organizational culture and work well with the rest of the team.  We all spend too many hours of our week working to be working with people we aren’t comfortable working with at all.

To accurately assess fit during the interview, it is incumbent upon the interviewer to clearly identify what constitutes fit for the organization and the department.   Clearly define what you need so you can ask appropriate questions as well as recognize it when you see it.   Think about how work gets done successfully in your organization.  Do you need someone who works collaboratively as part of teams or someone who can keep their head down and get the job done?  Do you need someone who can work very independently or do they need to be given constant direction?  Do you want someone who accepts the status quo or someone who is always looking for a better way to do things?  Some key interview questions to consider:

  • Tell me about your greatest success in your current role and how did you achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time you were part of a team and you didn’t agree with the action being taken.  What did you do?  What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time you had to convince a team to take an unpopular action.  How did you accomplish this?
  • What do you would need to be successful in this job?
  • Tell me about a time you identified a better way to do something in your job.  What steps did you take?  What was the outcome?

The personal fit can be a bit more challenging.  Managers needs to have a self-awareness of their own style as well as of how their team works together.  While you don’t want to hire someone to be your best friend, you need to hire someone you enjoy working with and can trust to do the work in a timely and accurate manner.  Social intelligence can be a significant factor.  I had an employer explain that they after an interview, they ask themselves if they could do a cross-country flight sitting next to the person.  If the answer is a clear no, it is probably also not someone you want to work with every day!  How do they work with others and with their manager?  Some key interview questions to consider:

  • How would your current manager describe your work style?
  • What would your current manager identify as your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would your colleagues describe your work style?
  • What would your colleagues identify as your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What three words would your current manager use to describe you?
  • What three words would your colleagues use to describe you?
  • How would you describe the perfect manager?
  • What do you need/expect from a manager to help you be successful?

With employers focused on fit, we are seeing an increase in behavioral questions.  Looking at how the candidates handled different types of situations in the past to assess how they might respond in the future.  It is less about asking very personal questions and more about seeing how they behave in certain situations.

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