3 Simple Ways to Determine Hiring Fit

July 29, 2013 — 4 Comments

I remember the first time I asked my supervisors if I could sit in on an interview they had scheduled with an outside candidate. I figured it would be a good learning opportunity as well as a break from crunching financial numbers. (This was during my first job out of college, before I got into leadership consulting). To my surprise, both supervisors looked at me like I had just told them aliens had arrived on our planet and wanted to tour our facilities. I went back to my desk trying to figure out what was so absurd about my request.

Sitting in on an interview might have been awkward for that role, but since then I’ve participated in many job interviews, observed the process and helped identify skills needed for future job roles. Talent acquisition can get complicated sometimes, but I constantly find myself referring back to three simple questions my friend Brad once shared with me about how to determine if a candidate is a good fit for the team. I’d like to share them with you.

Job CandidatesWould this person be a positive influence on my team? On my kids?

A person may have all the technical and leadership skills required to get a job done. But at the end of the day, we all become like the company we keep. If a person’s influence is less than positive, it will bring the entire team down. An extreme way to think about this is to consider if you’d feel comfortable having you children spend time around the individual. If that doesn’t seem like a good idea, perhaps you ought to reconsider offering the candidate a chance to significantly influence your employees.

What has this person done? Does it match their stated values?

Most positions require a resume as a part of the job application. It’s certainly important that the actual experiences matches what you find on the application. But it’s also important to demonstrate a values match. If a candidate says he is a very loyal employee but has held five jobs in the last two years, that should set off some alarm bells. Or perhaps he talks about how important customer service is but then complains about the customers of a previous company. Would you expect him to feel any differently about your customers?

What is this person’s motivation to be part of this team?

This is a pretty straight forward question. Why is the person applying? Does she want to be a part of the team or does she have her sights set beyond this particular role to another one? Will it be a resume builder or a developmental experience? Of course no one will (or should) stay in the same role for the rest of their career. But if this job is not the one the candidate wants, wouldn’t you want to know why she is applying to this one instead of to another one? Chances are, she will not be as invested as a person who truly wants to be there.

None of these questions ought to replace typical questions regarding competency. But skills being equal (or in some cases, not being so equal), isn’t it worth going the extra mile to find the “right person?”

What other criteria do you use to identify the right person for a new job?

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his new ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website  or follow him on Twitter.
  • Joe Denner

    As someone who has been regularly involved in the hiring process over the last 15 years I find these three questions extremely beneficial. Good post.

    • You are an expert in the hiring field, Joe – so your input adds a lot of credibility. Thanks for reading!

  • We are in the midst of hiring my counter part in my company. These three questions are very good. Thanks for the insight Nathan!