Does the Candidate Fit?
When selecting talent to join the team, the quality that carries the most weight for leaders is whether the candidate fits the organization and team.
More than skill, judgment, track record or experience, fit is often the defining assessment that determines if a job offer is made. To learn months later that a new colleague doesn’t fit in and can’t work collaboratively within the team is the fatal flaw that drives leaders to overweigh fit in the selection process.
The two qualities most define whether a prospective colleague fits or not are:
1. Value Congruence
2. Work Style
Values define cultures and leaders want to insure that new colleagues hold the core values of the team. When values are in conflict, the ability to get work done seamlessly becomes problematic.
Competing values also create controversy when decisions are challenged by newcomers who don’t subscribe to the premises upon which work is conducted. We think people fit when they hold the values we do (not think like we do).
Similarly, leaders desire new colleagues to have a work style that promotes collaboration and information sharing with the existing team. If the team works independently and autonomously, for example, a candidate who needs high touch every day to be effective is deemed a poor fit. While prospective colleagues don’t need to dress, talk, or act like current team members, they do need to stylistically work like them in order to fit in.
While the idea and assessment of fit rightly holds a significant influence in the assessment process, it is known to contaminate the views of other important qualities necessary for selection. Once a candidate is seen as a fit, they are viewed as more talented, skillful and experienced even though fit is unrelated to those qualities. The fact that fit pollutes the objective assessment of a candidate is a huge problem for any recruiting process.
The solution is not to lessen the reliance on fit when judging talent, but to focus on other qualities before assessing it. Selection processes that focus on fit too early allow compatibility to cast too large a shadow over how we judge people. Fit colors how we see skill and judgment only if we let it. The best leaders remember that similarity in values and work style is a predictor of comfort, not of skill or talent.