There’s a secret that Google, Zappos and Facebook all know – the secret that makes them Dream Employers. It’s not just the swanky in-house lunches or the mythic indoor slides. The real secret behind these famously fun and wildly successful workplaces isn’t the perks, it’s a Human Resources practice called “hiring for fit.”
Employers who hire for fit look beyond the resume, understanding that educational background and career experience aren’t the only indicators of a successful candidate. They look at an employee as a whole person, understanding how personality and experience determine an employee’s effectiveness.
Hiring for fit requires asking different questions. Does his personality match the team? Does she approach problems the way we do as an organization? Will his leadership style complement or clash with his coworkers? Does she hold the same values we try to promote as a company?
It goes both ways, too. As job seekers, we can look past the position offered on paper and investigate the company’s culture and values. Company websites often have information on company values and mission, but the best place to gather information is in the interview.
Do You Have Any Questions?
What kind of questions can you ask during the interview to help you figure out whether you’re a good fit for the company? The first step is knowing yourself. Think about the most fulfilling and frustrating workplace experiences you’ve had, and try to pinpoint the kind of people or environments where you thrive and where you struggle. Do you thrive in high-power, competitive environments? Does a micro-managing boss frustrate you? Is it crucial that the workplace celebrates individual accomplishments, or regularly hosts community-building events?
Once you know what energizes and what drains you in the workplace, you can craft your questions – but sometimes it takes a little sleuthing to get a real answer. For example, at my dream workplace, employees love their work because they have a direct positive impact on people. At an interview, asking outright, “do you love your work because you have a direct impact on people?” probably won’t give me the information I need. Instead, I could ask something like, “What’s most satisfying or fulfilling about this job/organization?” If the hiring manager answers something like “beating the competition” or “making money,” I know that I’m ultimately unlikely to be a good fit for the job.
Spend some time preparing thoughtful questions before the interview, and you’ll impress the hiring manager with your insight. Even more importantly, you might uncover red flags or warning signs that will help you avoid stepping into an organizational nightmare. Check out the video below for a fresh perspective on hiring for fit from Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why.