By Patrick Rowan, Partner
The most important reason an organization decides to hire a person is for something that may not be easy to understand– it’s called “fit.” The job itself will have requirements for specific experience, accomplishments, education and professional designations, but every organization looks for certain unique qualities that reflect the company, its values and its corporate culture. They won’t hire you unless they think you have these qualities – this is the “fit factor.”
Think of a well-known, famous company. Companies that you like and have met their employees. I am sure that you can imagine that if you went to work at Disneyworld, you would need to have a certain type of personality. What is that? All Disney employees have it. Or Starbucks – they do too. Apple. Google. McDonald’s. These companies have strong brand identities and images. They are careful who they select for their teams, especially for leadership roles, because they want all their employees to reflect their brand and their corporate values. Their employees receive extensive, ongoing training and development. Those who do not have the fit factor are eventually weeded out.
How do you know if you will fit? Your resume states your education, professional certifications and a progression of jobs, titles, duties, employers and accomplishments. But it doesn’t say who you are and how you will “fit”. Fit is why people get hired (or not) and it is why they succeed or fail in an organization. Fit overrides everything. Leaders hire people who they feel comfortable with, identify with, and with whom they want to work, and think will excel (and potentially progress to leadership).
Fit is all about the way that you express yourself, your core values and beliefs, and your communication style. It’s also how project your interest in the organization’s core values and beliefs. In order to “fit,” you need to be like they are, believe in what they believe in, and think the way they do, understand what they do, and be motivated like they are. Their leaders demonstrate the best fit of all – it is second nature to them.
This is what you need to know to have a good interview. Know yourself, what your core values are and what you want from your career, the work you are challenged and energized by, and the sort of people that you like to work with. Products, services and initiatives that you enjoy being involved with. When you talk about these things, the interview will feel easier, because you are talking about what makes you happy.
You should ask yourself a few questions to figure this out – where it is that you fit. When you are asked to an interview, you are already a person with the right education, credentials and experience. The first interview is more about who you are.
These questions below mirror the kinds of thoughts that go through a senior leader’s mind when they meet candidates in a first interview.
- What are you proud of? What makes you awesome? What gives you joy?
- What kind of people do you like working with? What companies made you happiest? What jobs? Which bosses? How do you overcome challenges and manage disagreements?
- What topics are you excited to explore? What kinds of questions drive you forward?
- How have you shown initiative? What sort of environment makes you thrive?
- How have you challenged yourself? Surprised yourself?
- How have you overcome failure?
- What role have you played in the communities around you (family, school, religious, service organization)? What impact have you had? How have these communities shaped you?
- How do you envision yourself contributing to our organization?
It’s important for you to know what the answers are to the above questions. It will help you understand whether you are or want to be one of them.
Tell them. And see if you fit.
- On December 17, 2018