The Importance of “Hiring for Fit”

Hiring a new employee or recruitment process

Hiring a new employee or recruitment process

Your company is experiencing success and you’ve got more on your to-do list than you can possibly accomplish on your own. It’s a quality problem to have, but what next?

As a new or small business, growing your team is an exciting step, but the hiring process can seem overwhelming and time consuming, and can feel like it has uncertain results. So how do you make sure you end up with the right person working for you?

While there are never any guarantees, there are a number of strategies to keep in mind to maximize the chances of finding the perfect person. Having said that, let’s be clear; hiring the perfect person all boils down to this: hire for fit.

What is “fit”?


We all know it’s important to make sure you’re hiring someone who has the qualifications to do the job. But finding the right person is also about balance; having the knowledge, skills, abilities and experience necessary to perform job duties is only part of the equation. Equally important is whether the values of your new hire align with your company culture. The perfect employee has both the qualifications and the ability to connect with your culture – they understand who you are and where you want to go, and can get behind your core values. They fit.

The advantage? Employees who are hired for fit get up to speed faster, find their work more meaningful, generally perform better, and are likely to stay with you longer. All excellent reasons to make sure you hire the right fit for your organization!

So how do you hire for fit? Here are 5 strategies to make it happen.

  1. Know who you are and spell it out. Before you think about hiring, you need to identify your core values. Successful organizations, regardless of size, understand which values are core to their culture and can share them. You can’t hire someone who fits with your values and vision if you’re not sure yourself what those are.
  1. Know what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re hiring for, it is unlikely that you’ll end up with the right person by accident. If you’re thinking of hiring, identify what you need in an employee. Do you need an outgoing personality who has great phone skills or maybe your top priority is someone who can take initiative and work independently. The key here is to think about your ideal candidate and describe them as best you can. The clearer you are, the more likely you are to find them. Then separate the nice-to-haves from the need-to-haves before you hire to set you up to succeed in hiring the right fit!
  1. Ask good questions. To hire for fit you need to know who your candidate is as a person. Don’t be afraid to think creatively when you’re coming up with interview questions. Without asking any prohibited questions, thinking outside the box can give you a more complete picture of who someone is (and also creates a more relaxed interview atmosphere). Need some ideas to get you started? Here are some possible questions to screen applicants for culture fit.
  1. Be aware of your biases. Sharing values doesn’t mean having the exact same outlook and approach as you. Hiring for fit also doesn’t mean falling prey to your hidden cognitive biases and hiring someone you like (because they’re just like you!) or indirectly discriminating by making hiring decisions based on who you want to have coffee with. Your focus on hiring for fit shouldn’t cripple your creativity quotient: look for individuals with complementary backgrounds, personalities and skill sets.

As you grow your company, work to build a diverse and dynamic team that supports and challenges each other by bringing different strengths to the table. In a constantly evolving business world, your organization needs to be able to adapt and think creatively to be successful, and avoiding homogenizing your culture can help you do that.

  1. Plan for the investment. It’s fairly easy to find a candidate with the basic qualifications necessary to do a job, but hiring for fit can take a bit more time. Remind yourself that it’s worth the time investment: adding to your team is one of the most important steps you’ll take in growing your business, so block aside the time to do it properly. Need convincing? Aside from the stress it causes, work done by Dr. Bradford Smart, author of Topgrading, shows that hiring the wrong person can cost you a healthy chunk of change – between 5 and 27 times their yearly salary (to calculate the cost of a mis-hire, click here).

Have more questions about hiring for your small business? Connect with Denise on January 21st, 2016 at the SOHO Victoria Event, where she’ll be hosting a Roundtable Discussion on How to Hire Your First Employee.

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