Screen for Performance, Hire for Fit

Hire for fit!Isn’t it ironic how so many leaders promote the idea of hiring for fit?  Yet, so many organizations continue to hire only for skills.  Why does such a disconnect exist between what we know would provide a competitive advantage and what we practice?

Sure, knowledge and skills are important.  In some jobs, they are critical.  Yet, in most areas knowledge and skills are “develop-able.”  Personality, fit with team, work ethic, and attitude are not.  You’ve either got the traits and attitude to make it on a team or in an organization, or you don’t.  Your values either fit with the organization’s, or they don’t.

Unfortunately, narrow thinking usually trumps creative staffing.

Managers have a limited hiring perspective, constrained by the letters and words on the job description.  On top of that, few companies truly test for skill competence, relying instead on self-reporting, i.e., asking candidates to “tell me about a time when…..”  In reality, such interviewing techniques may only differentiate between candidates who are good storytellers from those who are not.  Last I checked, storytelling wasn’t among the most critical job competencies in most disciplines.

In fact, large organizations are frequently bound by bureaucratic fears of anything short of complete standardization and adherence to staffing protocols.  And smaller companies too often idolize their larger brethren with an “I wanna be like Mike” envy, which causes them to similarly adopt rigid hiring practices and rules for managerial choices.  It’s a sad state of affairs, to be sure.

So, I’m not suggesting ignoring performance-based assessments of job candidates.  But ensure the methods you are using, 1) actually help you determined truth from storytelling, and 2) beef up the personality and culture “fit” assessments of candidates.  An organizational psychologist can help determine the best blend of assessment techniques to establish the most appropriate blend for your organization.  Regardless, don’t downplay the importance of attitude and personality fit in your search for the best candidates.

In the end, employees don’t leave organizations because they can’t do the job.  They leave because of personality, values, or cultural disalignment.  The organizations of the future will all realize and leverage this.  Will your organization be among them?

2 thoughts on “Screen for Performance, Hire for Fit

  1. Good post Trevor, I agree whole-heartedly, because I have made the mistake a few times of hiring for skill and fit was the better choice. Usually, if you find the fit you can train them to do the job.

    thanks for the good post

  2. We’ve all made that mistake, I think. I certainly have, and the headaches associated with hiring the wrong person (even if that person is wonderfully talented and experienced at the specifics of the job) will not soon be forgotten! Unfortunately, too often, we realize this and then forget it as soon as we try to replace that “misfit.” Sigh…….

    Thanks for the comment, Tina. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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