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Hiring someone who “fits” in your organization is essential for both performance and retention. As you go through the hiring process, these are some important questions you need to ask:

  • What type of person works best with our company?
  • What type of person works best in my department and with my management style?
  • What type of manager am I?
  • What type of environment do I create?
  • Who am I willing to invest in?
  • What sort of person benefits from my training/coaching?
  • What sort of person forces me to change my style?

Why Does Fit Matter in the Hiring Process?

Why Hire for Fit?

The number one reason people leave organizations is poor fit to the manager and/or poor fit to the team.

I’ve met people who have left high-paying jobs where they excelled, but just didn’t fit with their team or the manager.

So why is that?

Having worked as an expert in the selection business for more than a decade, I know hiring managers are looking to fill a position based on the criteria set by the organization – which usually pertains to “on the job performance”. However, how many of the candidates who fit those criteria will also fit with the organizational culture and manager?

Assessing and selecting candidates for performance is critical; but, if those candidates aren’t going to stay with your organization then it won’t do you much good. Assess for performance and retention together to find top performing employees who fit with your company and your management style.

We refer to this as “effective retention”, which means hiring top performing employees and retaining them over time. Read our previous post for more details on this important topic!

An Example: My Own Experience with Fit

A number of years ago, I hired a researcher who had a PhD and Post Doc. His credentials were impressive and he came with all the criteria to succeed in the role, so we hired him. This person worked hard and gave 100% while working with our organization.

However, as this employee’s manager I can tell you that something didn’t quite click between us. My management style is self-managing with high independence potential; I wasn’t prone to providing a lot of feedback, supervision, or structure. I tend to want people to take responsibility and figure things out for themselves.

For months, this employee constantly came into my office – about five or six times a day – asking the simplest questions and looking for my reassurance and feedback. At times he would ask a question, answer the question without needing me to actually respond, and leave. This went on for about eight months, until one day he came into my office and resigned. When I asked him why, he said “I like what I do but I don’t think this is the right environment for me”. I accepted his resignation and we left on good terms.

After some thought, I went back to his psychometric profile to see if I missed anything. The one thing I overlooked in his character traits was his “Fit to the Environment” scale, which showed he had a high need for structure and feedback – so much so that it was quite a dominant trait!

In our research, the “Independence Potential” trait has emerged as the number one predictor of retention in all the validation studies we have carried out. Well, I guess I learned the hard way and just validated that once more!

I now put particular emphasis on this trait when selecting new people for my team. I find out whether they fit the job (performance) and whether they fit the culture I have created (retention).

KEY DETERMINANTS OF PERFORMANCE AND RETENTION

Why Does Fit Matter in the Hiring Process?

After this experience, I always ask managers in my training programs:

  • When making a hiring decision, how much would you be willing to change your management style to suit the candidate?
  • Is it easier to change your training program and management style to suit the candidate or adjust your selection process to help you find the right candidate who fits?

Most opt to adjust the selection process.

Self-Awareness and Awareness of Others

There are two main components when understanding fit in the selection process:

1. Self-Awareness

As noted in past articles, self-awareness is critical to self-development – but it is also important to ensure you select people who fit with you.

A top sales manager once said to me: “you need to ask yourself, would I mind being in a car with this person for two or three hours on an appointment?”

If the answer is NO, then don’t even think about bringing them onto your team. 

2. Awareness of the Candidate

To understand how someone fits with your company, the team, and your natural coaching style, you need to better understand who they are.

Using a psychometric profile in the selection process is one of the easiest ways to do this. These profiles help predict which people will perform and stay based on the ideal ranges or benchmarks set in the assessment. A predictive tool should be validated not only to the role, but also to the role within your organization based on the types of people who perform and fit in your organizational culture.

Focus on Fit when Hiring for Retention

Our validation studies show that top organizations with high effective retention focus on talent and fit, giving them both performance and retention.

We see this statistic time and time again; fit is critical when selecting candidates! You must use science in combination with your intuition to ensure you are making the right selection decisions for you and your company.

There is nothing worse than hiring an all-star who leaves you for another company because they just didn’t FIT! Not to mention the high costs of replacement: “if you don’t have time to do it right the first time, where are you going to find the time to do it over again?”


With over 35 years of research and historical data, SMG can provide the tools and insights your organization needs to predict retention and performance when hiring. Contact us now!

Learn about our training course: Attracting High Quality Candidates.

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Robert Dougan

About Robert Dougan

Robert is the Director of Practice Management and a senior consultant at The Self Management Group. Robert has spent many years helping professionals in financial services with personalized custom solutions in the area of talent acquisition, talent management, succession planning, coaching, and team development to improve both the top and bottom line.

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