How to hire for fit

Determining how to hire for fit is a huge recruiting challenge — and one that can have big implications to productivity and the overall office culture you’re trying to create. For one thing, it’s easy to confuse hiring for chemistry with hiring for fit. Chemistry is when you click with the candidate in the interview stage. Fit is about how that person meshes with the company culture.

Culture-based recruiting can create a closer match. It’ll make you battle your biases and look for objective suitability signals. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your recruitment strategy when it comes to hiring for fit.

Get a handle on your culture

Do you know what your current company culture is? Whether by design or neglect, each workplace develops its personality. That includes elements such as pressure levels, formality, internal competitiveness, opportunities for socializing, etc.

You need to identify the unique beliefs, behaviours and practices of your company. Use a confidential survey. Or interview a cross-section of employees and leaders about the work environment.


Ask candidates fit-related questions 

When your goal’s to recruit someone for specific tasks or fixed-term, culture’s less critical. But when hiring core employees, it’s an inescapable factor. So in screening and interviews cover some of the following areas:

a) Previous company cultures

People who’ve toiled for several employers – or in several divisions within the same company – get a feel for how work environments vary. You want to suss out what they like (or loathe) most.

· How would you describe the personality of your last workplace(s)? For instance, was it bureaucratic, or unstructured? High stress, or laid back?

· What did you like most about that environment? Least?

· What’s your going-in impression of our workplace’s personality?

b) Preferred work style

Recruits won’t last long if they aren’t allowed to operate naturally. Inquire about favoured functioning. 

· In teams or solo

· Micromanaged or mostly left alone 

· Constantly multitasking or focused in-depth on fewer tasks  

· Long term projects or mainly shorter assignments

c) Desired recognition

Rewards and recognition are carrots that motivate and help retain staff. Find out if your company’s methods resonate with the candidate. Inquire what they think about your…

· Frequency of feedback and performance reviews

· Reward basis (e.g. performance-based payouts vs. guaranteed bonus; flat pay vs. commission)

d) Ideal workplace personality

Didn’t get enough specific info from question a)? Dig deeper by asking them to describe their perfect workplace. Here are some attributes to consider.

· Friendly vs. reserved

· Mutually helpful vs. cutthroat 

· Risk encouraging vs. risk-averse

· Forgiving vs. merciless

Use other avenues to determine fit

Problem with interviewees is they’re prone to tell you what you want to hear. Or your biases cause you to overlook a mismatch. A couple of extra things could improve accuracy. 

Using personality tests  is a pretty common technique. However, these can be cheated by sophisticated applicants. And results often need professional interpretation.

If you are soliciting input from previous employers while reference checking assists, you could describe your workplace culture and ask if the candidate seems suited. Still unsure? Last resort’s a paid tryout. Watch if that convincing chemistry dissolves into culture conflict.