Finding the Right Fit when Interviewing Job Candidates

 In this guest blog, Beverly Hinson of SuccessWorks demystifies determining which candidate is the best fit for your job opening, including questions that help with cultural fit and the specific role. At Equiliem, we believe finding that perfect fit is everything!

Skills, Experience, or, is it Something Else?

Having the right “fit” for the job entails more than just finding out if a candidate has the requisite skills and experience. Both, of course, are important, but they are not the sole factors determining if you are selecting the best candidate for the job. Equally important is determining if the candidate shares your core values and cultural norms.

Development Dimensions International (DDI) points out that candidates who can do the job and want to do the job will be far more successful than a candidate who is able but not satisfied or willing to do the job.  Their article 14 Common Behavioral Interviewing Mistakes and How to Overcome Them (ddiworld.com) explains, “People who are not motivated to do a job most likely will not be productive employees.”

Be Clear about Company Culture First

So, how do you figure this out? The first step in determining a candidate’s fit is answering questions about the organization, the job, the culture, the location, and other factors that may impact a candidate’s satisfaction and engagement. For example, is your organization genuinely living its core values or working on them? If you are still working on it, you need a candidate who exhibits the values you desire, is adept at facilitating change, and is resilient enough to weather the inevitable challenges ahead.

Understanding what you have to offer a potential future employee can help both parties assess whether the opportunity is a good fit. Too often, organizations hire candidates with the best resume – excellent skills and great experiences – only to find that a few months later, the candidate is not performing as expected. The candidate may even feel misled about the role or the organization.

Once you’ve assessed the organization and job, you’ll need to plan your interview questions to determine the candidate’s fit. You’ll want to ask the interviewee for examples of when they worked in situations like what you have to offer. Ask about how satisfied they were in those situations. For example, say that the job requires employees to regularly work long hours and weekends. Are they willing to work those hours? Will they will be happy doing so?

Ask for Examples vs. Yes or No

To find out this information, you’ll want to build rapport and ask questions in ways that elicit honest answers. You may not necessarily say, “We must work 10 – 15 hours of overtime at least one week a month. Is this something you would be willing to do?”

Often candidates will say “yes” even if they have reservations. Instead, you’ll want to phrase the questions so that candidates reflect on and share examples of when they were in a comparable situation in the past. Instead, you might say, “We all must occasionally work extra hours or weekends when the job requires. Can you tell me when you had to work a lot of overtime or weekends?”

Once the candidate shares the situation, a few good follow-up questions would be, “how much overtime did you have to work,” “how frequently did this happen,” and finally, “how satisfied or dissatisfied were you with that situation and why?”  When you reframe your questions, the information you gather will be far more prosperous and better enable you to evaluate a candidate’s fit. Another tip – ask candidates about situations where the environment differs from your organization. Even better, ask questions in both ways to keep candidates from trying to guess the answer you want to hear.

So, now that you’ve assessed the organization and crafted the interview questions, where is the best place to incorporate them in the interview process? This will vary based on your organization’s hiring process. I typically prefer to include fit questions in the screening process. While this approach can add time to the typical candidate screening, you’ll save time by ensuring candidates brought onsite for interviews have the necessary technical qualifications and exhibit the suitable fit characteristics for the role, the team, and the organization. I’ve found it is certainly worth taking the time upfront to understand a candidate’s ability to fit in and, at the very least, before making a job offer. After all, you want a candidate who has both the ability to do the job and the desire to do it in your organization.

What to Ask to Determine Cultural Fit

Below are a few sample questions for assessing your organization and the job to help determine if the candidate is a good match. Note, when answering questions about the organization and role, answer honestly about the current state rather than the desired one.

Assessing culture fit

Assessing Role Fit

Remember, these are only a few quick examples. Do a thorough evaluation and create a comprehensive interview guide to get the best results.

About Beverly Hinson

Beverly Hinson is a certified coach and trainer specializing in leadership, presentation skills, facilitation skills, interviewing prep, and interviewer training.  She has over 20 years of experience as a learning and development leader for billion-dollar organizations. She has served large and small entities in various industries for more than 30 years, supporting leaders and individuals on their paths to success.

About Equiliem

Equiliem (www.equiliem.com) believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive. 

Across the U.S., leading companies in healthcare, government, light industrial manufacturing, professional services, and energy rely on us for their workforce solutions. Our recruiting and HR services include contract and direct hire staffing, Payrolling/EOR, Independent Contractor Compliance, and Managed Services.

Since 1995, we’ve helped shape our industry. Today, we continue to research, ask questions, and continuously enhance the candidate journey and client experience.