After an interview, jobseekers often say, “I hope I get that job…it’s a good fit.”


When I read Human Resource and Recruiter blogs about hiring, they are constantly asking about job fit. And yesterday, a potential client spent about 90 minutes telling me about her current job, which could be summarized by, “It’s just not a good fit.”

What amazes me is that everyone is talking about something different. Job security is greatly dependent on fit, so attending to this single factor is critical.

* * *

Ready for interview. Thoughtful senior man in formalwear holding paper while sitting at the chair in waiting room

Sam was escorted to a room for his interview. There was a table with a chair and a few other chairs were pushed against the wall. A small side table sported a few magazines.

He checked the papers in his portfolio and felt his tie to make sure it was straight. He was early. He picked up a magazine and found an interesting article.

A young man entered the room and sat down at the table. He was wearing shorts, a wrinkled tee shirt and tennis shoes—no socks. He sat down at the table and placed a tablet and some papers on the table. Sam nodded and returned to his magazine.

After several minutes, the young man said, “Hi. I’m Cam…Cameron.” Sam smiled and said, “I’m Sam.” …and returned to his magazine as he checked his watch.

After a few more minutes, Cam said. “Well, how about if we get started with the interview.” Sam couldn’t believe it. THIS was the person who was going to interview HIM?

The interview continued for about 10 minutes and finally Cam said, “If you are having a problem with me, and that’s obviously the case, then this place is not going to be a good fit for you.” The interview was over.

* * *

Recently a client was telling me about a lesson learned earlier in his career. He reported to the CEO of a large multi-national firm. They were interviewing for a Senior Vice President of Sales for North America.

After a finalist left the CEO’s office, my client said, “ He seems to be a perfect fit.” The CEO replied, “We will not be hiring him. His suit was slightly wrinkled, and it didn’t quite fit.” The decision was final.

* * *


Job fit—by whose definition?
When I have a spare moment, I spend my time reading and listening to hiring professionals from recruiters, HR professionals to hiring managers—anyone involved with the hiring process.

What do recruiters look for?
This topic is central. Jorg Stegemann is a leading international recruiter with Kennedy Executive. In a recent post, How To Hire Someone: Checklist (7 Tips), Jorg asks if the candidate has 70% of the technical requirements and 100% of the personal requirements.

Other questions on Jorg’s list included:

  1. Do I trust the candidate?
  2. Do I want him to represent the company when I’m not around?
  3. Can I imagine the candidate with my team? Does it look good to me?

Only one of his seven points address skill sets. The other six are about fit! Now do you see why I blog about this topic a lot? Most jobseekers think it’s all about their skills! It isn’t.

Candidates tend to focus their idea of job fit on skills and experience. Managers concentrate on the ramp-up time and the energy it will take to get a candidate to the point of adding value.

How about HR? Same as recruiters…or different?
A recent survey of online HR chat can be summarized in this article on the top 10 HR issues.

The top three issues cited here are retention, recruitment, and productivity.
Here are a few quick excerpts that reinforce the point:

  • Employees are the lifeblood of the company.
  • Your business will also have invested significant time and money into ensuring maximum productivity wherever possible.
  • The second major challenge facing the Human Resources’ department is recruitment of talent. Finding staff with the correct blend of skills, personality and motivation is difficult.
  • The HR department needs to provide each employee with the right combination of culture, remuneration, and incentives.

My point is this: Human Resource professionals define job fit in terms of productivity. Also consider that when a company doesn’t make its profit margins, HR gets blamed for not hiring the right people…no pressure huh?

Please consider reading this article on The Science of Hiring. It focuses on job fit from the HR perspective.

What is important to the hiring manager?


The criterion of Hiring managers may not be essentially different than HR, however, the manner in which it is expressed will be.

Hiring managers look for the candidate that will be able to quickly become a member of the team and bring tangible value. It’s a combination of the time it will take to integrate into the team, embrace the tools to do the job, and produce the product that meets the need at hand.

This article sites three essentials and all of them assume that the skill sets, education, and experience are in place.

What are the essentials?

  1. Credibility and reliability. The real issue was dependability.
  2. Teamplayerism. This was about social skills.
  3. 110-percentism. This addresses “self-directed enough, without a lot of hand-holding…”

Note that none of these are tangibles like an MBA or 7 years experience in a lab, or the ability to use specific software. The success factors deal with personal attributes and character traits.

And what about the jobseeker?
Jobseekers rarely think in terms of the concerns outlined here. Their idea of “fit” focuses on how comfortable they are with their colleagues, whether they get along well. Jobseekers concern themselves with the energy level of the environment, whether they can work at home, and if there will be work-life balance.

There is nothing wrong with those concerns and they are prime considerations. However they should not be the focus during an interview. The consequence of taking this mind-set into an interview is to send the message, “This is all about my comfort in the office.” That won’t win an interview.

Do business ALWAYS look for job fit?
The answer is YES and NO.

A careful read of a job posting should reveal whether the position is part of a change initiative. When a company is going through change, then they may look to hire people who have a different approach to problem-solving than the current staff. AND…yes, most companies are going through continuous change.

However, a prime candidate will be someone who can bring change with the least amount of angst—someone who can smoothly work through change without undo interruption to productivity as work-flow processes adjust to meet new business directives.

Hired Target

Take action!
Understanding the differences in the needs of each player in the hiring process is critical and I hope this article helped. The next step is to clearly and succinctly demonstrate your attributes on your cover letter and résumé so each audience understands your value.

Need help?
That’s what we do in the Forward Motion Differentiation Workshop. This workshop is offered all over the U.S.

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