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Candidate Fit - what are the 10 most important factors?
Tips & Advice

Candidate Fit - what are the 10 most important factors?


Are you hiring for fit or hiring for skills? These 10 most important factors to look for when hiring will help you decide if the interviewee is right for your business.

You may have heard the old saying “hire for fit, teach skills.” And, it’s genuinely true. Hiring for fit, or more accurately, attitude, has become something we’ve espoused closely over the years. It’s important to find someone willing to bring a smile to the office, look at an issue a totally different way, and take feedback with grace.

And, from our experience, there are specific qualities you can screen for in the interview stage to determine if the candidate has the right attitude and will be a good fit. Here are the ten questions that can help you decide:

1. Are they enthusiastic?

How you can tell: Give the interviewee the opportunity to reach out to you after the phone interview. If the culture of your business believes that only those who want to work at the company should be hired, this will work well. If you tell the interviewee you won’t schedule up a follow up call unless they contact you first. While this may not work for all companies, it works for some where culture and enthusiasm is paramount to success.

2. Can they adapt to your working environment

How you can tell: While we don’t recommend playing mind games with a likely nervous candidate, do take note of how they react to their potential future workspace and colleagues. If someone brings them the wrong coffee, what is their reaction? If you schedule them for the wrong time, how do they react? If you are interrupted during the interview, what do they do or say? Any change to the norm is a great opportunity to see if a potential candidate is adaptable.

3. Would they be a team player?

How you can tell: How do they act, do they remember names or bring up topics that might be interesting to the new team member? While making small talk is not a prerequisite for any job, it's useful to observe if they really SEE the other team members or are simply focused on you, the interviewer.

4. Do they ask meaningful questions?

How you can tell: It can be obvious when a candidate replies to a question with a response which is so out of this world, you can sense a lie. If a candidate just parrots your own words back to you, but slightly out of order, it’s a guarantee they are paying very little attention.

Another indicator is a lack of specificity. If your candidate talks in broad terms about success, clients, lessons (all the usual job interview fodder), pull back and ask for really specific or one-off proof points or cases. A meaningful question to is one where the interviewer needs to think for a minute before they can answer. That means not only are they paying attention, but are thinking through more sophisticated concepts than the one you put on the table.

5. Are they willing to acknowledge past mistakes and explain how they learned from them?

How you can tell: Every job interview has that fun question about when you screwed up. Articles have been written about how to overcome it and every recruiter you know has heard the “I think my biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist,” answer more times than she cares to admit.

But to me, this is a huge indicator of whether or not they will be a fit. Do they blame their boss, their team, their family? Is it the traffic’s fault, the computer’s fault, the inability to read directions? If they cannot give you a specific example of a time they failed and what they did to get back on that proverbial horse, they are either lying or unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for mistakes and that will damage whatever team you put them on.

6. Are they willing to learn new things or seem excited by the opportunity to do so?

How you can tell: Does their resume show them leapfrogging or at least moving up at a company? Do you see examples of interesting work they’ve done that is clearly outside the scope of their former or current job title?

You can usually tell if someone is interested in learning more than the usual stuff by whether they ask to shadow more than one person in their onboarding week. If you don’t implement mentorship or an onboarding buddy, we would highly encourage the process. It teaches as much to the mentors as it does the new employees.

Finally, ask about a project that wasn’t successful or a giant failure, just one they absolutely loved and their role in it. This alone can give you tremendous insight into their passion for learning.

7. How resilient is this person?

How you can tell: This is pretty hard to tell from a few interviews, but by keeping an eye on their work history, and asking pointed questions about a time they’ve failed, their body language will give you some clues.

Keep in mind, if you are truly looking for unique talent, their resilience now is the only thing that matters, so ask how they would handle a difficult situation today versus one that happened five years ago.

8. Can they show their skills?

How you can tell: A mini-assignment in between the phone and in-person interview is the best indicator of this. While skills are NOT the most important piece of the puzzle, the ability to research, follow directions, adhere to deadlines and give your best effort are all unique and useful things. If you have the ability to add an assignment into your process, do so!

9. Do they seem ambitious to ensure work is completed as well as possible?

How you can tell: If they ask about deadlines, work timelines or explain how long projects typically take them, you can get a good idea of whether or not they are used to working on a deadline. Again, some of these questions are more relevant to a smaller team, but even larger corporations need to hit milestones and adhere to deadlines, so knowing that someone has a relevant idea of how to do that is crucial.

What is their passion?

How you can tell: By asking, “If you could do anything in the world professionally what would it be?” Write? Create? Build? Work with people?

Once you have an inside view into their passion, you can mentally gauge where they might be the happiest inside your company, or at least which team to pair them with. The brain of a person feeling positive is 31% more productive than their negative counterparts, so passion and happiness is important.

Hiring really great people goes beyond skills and resumes. It requires understanding the person’s motivations and desires and then connecting those within the company. Only then will you find great hires that are ready and willing to give their best to your work!

For further guidance and information on how to tell if a candidate is the right fit for your workplace, speak to one of our knowledgeable consultants today. We’d love to hear from you!


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