The concept of fit is talked about incessantly in the context of hiring, for good reason. It is a key indicator of employee retention and productivity, and, as Katie Bouton (@katiebouton) writes in the Harvard Business Review, in many instances it is as important as job knowledge or skill set in determining the measurable benefits companies get from their employees.
But focusing on fit can sometimes backfire - it can narrow your choices too much and exclude candidates that don’t meet the preconceptions of interviewers. It’s critical when determining fit that companies understand what it is, and what it isn’t.
- FIT IS NOT ABOUT CONFORMITY
Like-minded thinking can make life simple for managers but it can also cause inertia. The best decisions are usually reached via robust discussions between individuals with diverse viewpoints. The oft-cited example of Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet (aka his ‘team of rivals’) demonstrates perfectly how actively seeking diversity when building a team leads to success. Hiring for fit should not weed these individuals out; the goal should be to determine the potential outcomes (positive or negative) of adding them to your existing staff.
- FIT IS NOT ABOUT PEOPLE
Believe it or not, fit is not primarily about people. It’s not about determining who meshes well with other employees. Hiring for fit means aligning hiring with the organizational objectives of the company, which requires identifying these objectives and creating a process that measures candidates responses in relation to them. Rejecting applicants based on personality traits alone is easy, but not necessarily strategic.
- FIT IS NOT (ONLY) ABOUT NOW
In five or ten years, your company will no doubt look very different. Many factors will contribute to this but hopefully meeting specific, measurable goals is the primary one. That said, finding great candidates that fit means thinking about both short-term and long-term company objectives. Looking to the future when hiring for fit is a great way to ensure your employees will grow with you. Think beyond the specific role that is being filled and make sure you question to the core values that will endure no matter what happens in the future.
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