Grit, fit and wit – the three ingredients of a great hire. Grit’s been covered. So, what about fit? How well is a candidate going to “fit” the needs of the company, the team, and their role? Finding someone who fits is not the same as finding someone who fits in – just like a hinge fits a door or tires fit a car, two members of a team can be nothing alike and yet fit together perfectly with a unified purpose. Unlike grit, fit is totally unique to each organization, team and role. While managers can define the values and characteristics they are looking for, they don’t often translate them into interview questions that will determine fit. Good questions for fit uncover a candidate’s natural values, personality characteristics, and their idiosyncrasies.
Shared Values First, a new hire needs to fit the values of the company. Get beyond generic values like honesty, customer focus, and other universal ideals. What values make the organization unique? Is the firm highly intense or laid back, process heavy or creative, direct or passive, individual or team focused? Questions like these uncover values:
Tell us about a time you had a major deadline and how you handled it?
Do you follow a given processes or make your own and why?
Tell us a time you gave or received negative feedback, how did you handle it?
Do you prefer individual or team sports and why?
Keep in mind, some people are simply balanced and will be able to adapt and even enhance the shared values of the company. However, it's a red flag when a candidate can't effectively articulate a value that's important to the organization.
Diverse Characteristics Second, what are the characteristics you need for a given role? For example, being interpersonal for salespeople or attuned to details for Account Managers. Define the characteristics needed and ask revealing questions.
What was your favorite job and what aspect did you enjoy most?
What were your favorite courses in college and why?
Would you rather be a cook or a waiter and why?
Questions like these can uncover the characteristics of the candidate. If they don’t give specific examples then they are just saying what they think will get them the job.
Watch for Idiosyncrasies Idiosyncrasies are unusual behaviors that may, at first glance, seem interesting or even endearing but are irrelevant to the role. While tolerable at first, idiosyncrasies can quickly become quirks that annoy. Excessive talking, egotistical comments, sarcastic responses, a negative outlook, passiveness, or being thin-skinned are all things that can be difficult to detect during the interview but will doom the candidate and their future team. Simply watch for these idiosyncrasies during the interview and know that the more people who interview the candidate, the more likely these traits will be detected. It could be a particular interviewer who’s good at getting a candidate comfortable which uncovers otherwise hidden idiosyncrasies - giving additional weight to that person’s assessment.
Bring it All Together If you find someone who fits well, then technical skills can be taught. The team will value their presence and naturally engage them as they develop into a key player with shared values and distinct, important characteristics. Hiring for fit means productive teams that are highly profitable because they are cohesive and stable as they work towards challenging goals. It’s worth getting it right. What questions do you use to hire for fit? What idiosyncrasies have come back to haunt you? What happens when people don’t fit?