[05.16.10]
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On Being A Good Fit For The Job

 a good, analytic philosophers, puzzle piece, microsoft interview, job interview, the job, professional resume, job search, resume interview, interviews, recruitment, interviewing, fit, matters, subjective, qualifications, employment, jobs

This is an interesting topic for me. And I think you will find it interesting as well. Because I spoke to a  number of you over the past few weeks. And the subject of fit came up.

Some say that the resume is about “qualifications” and the interview is about “fit”.  And it is true that the resume is a poor substitute for an in-person interview.  And, really, until you meet someone it is really difficult to have any idea as to whether they will succeed at your company.

The professional resume is largely an objective tool.  Although it can be reviewed subjectively.  We can all choose to give candidates more or less credit for accomplishments.  Based on our own lens and our reaction to the way a candidate writes their professional cover letter.

But the interview is where the interesting aspect of “fit” really begins to come into play.

And what is “fit” really?  And how much influence do qualifications have in the final analysis?

Well the puzzle pieces above give you an idea, but those best represent the objective side, right?  A company has a job  and you have skills and experience that either match well or don’t match well.  Those are your qualifications for the job compared to the requirements for the job.

I think we all get that part.  The part that can befuddle and confuse is the subjective fit.  The gut call that companies make once all final round candidates have proven their ability to do the job.

And we’ve all been second place for a big job.  At least once in our careers.

So what ends up being the criteria for this subjective decision?  Here are my thoughts.

1.  The first 5 minutes of an interview are critical.  My first reaction to you matters.  the way you introduce yourself, carry yourself and interact with me early on establishes a first impression.  Your success in the first 5 minutes with each interview will greatly influence the decision.  And let’s face it.  We’re all a bit judgmental.  That’s our job for the hiring company.

2.  Risk. This is related to your qualifications. If you are a 90% fit in a tough market, there will likely be a few 100% folks in the competitive set.  And the only way you will be handed the office key is if your subjective fit value is high.  Because that reduces the risk for the hiring manager.  She can then say to her boss:  “I know Tim is missing that one small piece in his background, but the referral and strong recommendation from Mike carries a lot of weight.”  or “Did you see what a great communicator he was during the interviews?  We need more people like Tim here.”

3.  Work style and work philosophy also matter.  How you do your job matters.  How well you interact with fellow employees well above and below your level.  Are you structured and process oriented or more free flowing and reactive?  This can make a difference in a candidate review.

4.  Personality and social skills can play a role.  The way you interact with interviewers, other employees and the person at the front desk can make a difference.  Ask your network about the culture there.  Are they looking for social butterflies or worker bees?  And don’t forget to identify what you are looking for.  Be yourself and pay attention on interview day.

5.  The conversational nature of your interviews can be a factor.  Not everyone will allow you to get into a dynamic back and forth.  Some interviewers force you to answer question after question.  But if you can open the door to more of a business discussion vs. a “interview”, you may learn a lot more about what type of candidate the company is really looking to hire.  One small risk?  Too much conversation can lead to the interviewer being left without enough data on you to convince others that you are the one.

But how else are companies determining fit?  There are new tools being built to help companies decide fit in a more surgical fashion.  In fact I read a recent story in Inc. Magazine about a new tool called ClearFit.  At the time the article was written they had over 500 companies using the software.

It is a test you take (15-20 minutes) and the company pays $100 per candidate.  The patented software was written by a bunch of Ph.D.s to “bring the best applicants in to focus and remove the guesswork”.

From the article:

When you upload a profile, the software can flag applications that sound false or over-hyped.  You’ll also get a detailed report with personalized interview questions to ask the candidate, as well as a metric that compares their attributes to the best performers in your company.

Not sure how you react to reading this.  Some may be glad to know that companies are doing this.  Others may be frustrated to hear that a computer is deciding their fate.  In the end, though, I recommend the same thing.

Be yourself. Because if they hire you.  Not some version of yourself.  You’ll be happy in the end.

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Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Job Interview Tips

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