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Careers: Assessing fit

We hear it all the time from colleagues: “At the end of the day, it’s about fit.” “If you were stuck in an airport, would you want to be stuck with that person…blah blah blah.“ Full disclosure—I’m not a big fan of “the airport test” (was it obvious?) mainly because the phrase is so overused by recruiters. But, all kidding aside, as interviewers, it is our job to assess the dynamic fit for each candidate. And, I think we’d all agree that there’s no single “best way” to evaluate it.

We hear it all the time from colleagues: “At the end of the day, it’s about fit.” “If you were stuck in an airport, would you want to be stuck with that person…blah blah blah.“ Full disclosure—I’m not a big fan of “the airport test” (was it obvious?) mainly because the phrase is so overused by recruiters. But, all kidding aside, as interviewers, it is our job to assess the dynamic fit for each candidate. And, I think we’d all agree that there’s no single “best way” to evaluate it. With that being said, here are a few key indicators I’ve used in the past to consider the fit of a candidate.

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Personality. This is something you can usually determine within the first few minutes (sometimes seconds) of the interview. I think we’d all agree that if there’s one indicator of who would pass that always popular airport test, it would have to be personality. Do you find yourself easily building rapport with the candidate right off the bat? Or are you painfully watching the seconds on the clock tick by as you anxiously wait for the interview to end?

Work style. Some companies are looking for in-your-face go getters with a “take no prisoners” mentality. Others are looking for something much different. To what degree is your organization looking for collaborative team players versus those who prefer to work independently to deliver results? During the interview, ask for examples of projects they’ve worked on and their roles. Did they seek input from others or work unilaterally? And how does that fit with your culture?

What motivates them. Recognition? Achievement? Social prestige? Look for rewards that motivated them in previous roles and determine whether or not those same rewards exist at your company. If recognition is their thing, but recognition at your firm only goes to senior management, there’s a good chance he or she isn’t going to work out.

The team dynamic. How would this person fit with your team? Do they have the right skill set, personality, and work style for the group? Try to imagine this person as a member of a team presentation, or participating in a team meeting. If your scenario yields an ugly picture, that might be a good time to cut the interview short.

Things get a little bit trickier when you’re hiring someone for a specific office; offices in different cities often have their own unique “personality.” You have to walk a thin line between finding someone who is a great fit with the overall organization and also with a specific office and a specific group of people.

What are some of the criteria you’ve used to assess fit? Post a comment.

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Shawn Graham is an Associate Director with the MBA Career Management Center at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (courtingyourcareer.wordpress.com).

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About the author

Shawn Graham partners with small businesses to create, implement, and manage performance-driven marketing strategies. His knowledge base includes media relations, business development, customer engagement, web marketing, and strategic planning

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