Finding Your Fit


This time of year, most folks are thinking about body fitness, however, as a Job Seeker or Employer there may be another type of fit to consider in 2017. How do you decide which candidate to hire? As a Job Seeker, which companies should you pursue? There are many factors to consider when making an employment decision. Many employers focus on only one or two areas of fit and later regret their selection decision. Candidates who forget to consider all aspects of fit may accept a role they are excited about within a dreadful company. The ultimate goal of employment relationships is to find mutual fit in all areas: position fit, cultural fit, group fit, motivation fit, management fit and integrity fit.

Why does fit matter? For employers, a bad hire can cost the business more than $25,000 (2012 CareerBuilder Survey) and have long-lasting impacts on company morale and productivity. For candidates, accepting the wrong role can delay your career progression, impact your credibility, result in termination (which can block future options) or impact your health (stress, depression, weight gain, and more.)


Position Fit

Nearly all applicants and employers consider position fit. This type of fit involves the qualifications, skills and experience necessary to perform the job. Position fit is typically determined early-on through the screening process. Candidates need to list out all applicable skills and experience to convey their position fit and employers need to compare candidates against their job description to determine if position fit exists.
Job seekers and employers should re-evaluate position fit through all phases of the recruiting process. Job ads can sell a position well, sometimes too well, and the reality doesn’t match up. Candidates can oversell themselves on paper. Both parties need to review the final sum of their interactions, before determining position fit.


Job Seeker Position Fit:

  • Does the level of this position make sense in my career trajectory?

  • Will I enjoy performing the daily duties of this role?

  • Will my skills be utilized in this job?

  • Will this position stretch me, hold me back or maintain my current abilities?

  • How long will I be satisfied with this role?

Employer Position Fit:

  • Does this candidate have all the critical skills and experience to thrive in this role?

  • Does this candidate have the level of skills and experience necessary?

  • If not, am I willing to help this candidate acquire these additional skills or experience?



Cultural Fit

Organizational Psychologist Adrian Furnham describes cultural fit as “…congruence between the norms and values of the organization and those of the person” in his book The Psychology of Behaviour at Work. While cultural diversity and diversity of thought are beneficial to business, there needs to be a certain level of cultural fit to maintain productivity and harmony.

As an extreme example, if you hired a very quiet, introverted accountant who values details and accuracy into a company filled with sales personalities who embellish with bravado, the accountant will likely struggle to connect and feel valued. Likewise, her co-workers will struggle to appreciate her demeanor because it is so contrary to their own. Hire that same accountant into a business filled with other reserved personalities and her nature will be appreciated and she will feel accepted. An outgoing accountant in the sales environment will likely lead to better job satisfaction, performance and personal interactions.

While recruiters can often determine cultural fit based on criteria provided by the employer, the experts are typically your current employees. They understand the norms and values of the organization better than anyone else because they operate within them daily. Inviting a few members of the team to participate in the interview process can help you select candidates who are a good cultural fit. Be careful, however, not to hire the popular candidate over the candidate who is the best overall fit. Cultural fit is only one aspect to consider and your employees may not be aware of other critical needs for the role.


Job Seeker Cultural Fit:

  • What is most important to me in an employer? Does this company demonstrate these attributes?

  • Do my values and outlook align with the values and outlook of this company? Of the employees I’ve met?

  • Could opposing or different values, beliefs and outlooks benefit me (i.e. personal growth, challenge)?

Employer Cultural Fit:

  • Does this candidate demonstrate values that are like those of our company and our current employees?

  • Does this candidate’s outlook (e.g. optimistic, growth-minded, entrepreneurial) align with the outlook of our company and current employees?

  • Are we seeking to maintain our current company culture or do we wish to change it

  • Could our company benefit from more diversity of thought or cultural diversity?



Department/Group Fit

Within a company there can also be sub-cultures that need to be considered. Just as there needs to be a good fit between the company culture and individual values, there also needs to be a good cultural fit between the candidate and the department or work group that they would join. 

Many employees list social connection as a major factor in their employment decisions. Employees will sometimes stay in a role or company they dislike because they are strongly connected to their co-workers. Research shows that people need social connection to be productive, and not the kind of surface-level connection you get through social media. We all need real, human connection to thrive.

Social connection in work groups can depend on fit. Your best resource for determining group fit is, again, the current employees within the group. Incorporating their perspectives into the selection process is a valuable way to measure group fit.


Job Seeker Group Fit:

  • What is most important to me in a work group? Does this department or work group demonstrate these attributes?

  • Do my values and outlook align with the values and outlook of this department? Of the employees I’ve met, who are part of this work group?

  • Could I build social connections with the members of this work group or department

  • Could opposing or different values, beliefs and outlooks benefit me (i.e. personal growth, challenge)?

Employer Group Fit:

  • Does this candidate have values that are similar to the employees within the department or work group?

  • Does this candidate’s outlook (e.g. optimistic, growth-minded, entrepreneurial) align with the outlook of our department or work group?

  • Are we seeking to maintain our current department or work group culture or do we wish to change it?

  • Could our department or work group benefit from more diversity of thought or cultural diversity?



Motivation Fit

It's important to understand what makes you tick and for employers to evaluate their business’s motivation style. As an individual, what inspires you, what causes you to disengage, what motivates you to perform better? As a company, how do you reward top performers, what incentive programs do you utilize

Once you know your own motivation style, you can seek out companies who engage their employees in a manner that works for you. Understanding how your company motivates employees provides the criteria to evaluate fit in this area.

There are a variety of motivation and engagement methods used by companies today. Some examples: individual versus group incentives, salary and bonuses, tangible goods (gift cards, company gear, swanky office supplies), challenge and responsibility, goal setting, purpose and impact (detailing how your efforts impact the bottom line), enthusiasm and energy, promotions and advancement, improved work environment (private office, parking space, compressed work week) work-life balance (increased paid time off, remote work options, on-site daycare), constructive feedback (coaching, mentoring) and recognition (employee of the month, certificates of achievement, top group for the quarter).

For an individual who is motivated by money, joining a company which rarely provides bonuses or salary increases would quickly take the wind out of their sails. In turn, an individual whose primary objective is to “make a positive difference in the world” will not be happy working for an oil company that repeatedly damages the environment, no matter how much money they make in the role.


Job Seeker Motivation Fit:

  • When did you give your best performance in your career? What motivated this performance?

  • What needs do you want to have met through your employment? (i.e. financial, social, education).

  • How does the company you are considering motivate their employees?

  • Does this align with what you are seeking from an employer, what draws you in and what pushes you to achieve more?

Employer Motivation Fit:

  • How does your company or department motivate your current employees?

  • What are your candidate’s needs and motivators?

  • Do these needs/motivators match your current company motivation strategy?

  • Does your company plan to change your current motivation strategy?




Management Style Fit

Every manager has their own management style. The way a leader encourages performance, how much authority they give their team, how they make decisions, how much or how little they delegate, how present they are with their team, the amount of mentoring or coaching they provide and many other factors make up an individual’s management style.

It’s important to recognize the hiring manager's management style and to compare this style with what drives you (the job seeker) or a particular candidate (for the employer). Understanding how a candidate has responded to previous management styles can provide a solid basis for determining management style fit.


Job Seeker Management Style Fit:

  • Which of your previous managers was your favorite? Why?

  • Which of your previous managers was your least favorite? Why?

  • How involved do you like your manager to be?

  • How much authority and responsibility do you wish to assume?

Employer Management Style Fit:

  • How does the manager who supervises this position interact with his/her subordinates?

  • What is the manger’s communication style?

  • How does the manager make decisions (majority rules, team input, autocratic)?

  • How much or how little does the manager delegate to the team?

  • What level of authority or responsibility does the manager place on team members?

  • Does this manager’s style align with the candidate’s preferred management style?




Integrity Fit

Large companies spend a lot of money screening out candidates who are not dependable or do not possess a certain level of integrity to avoid turnover, liability and morale costs. A skilled screening professional and a strong pre-employment screening process (assessments, reference checks, background checks, credential verification, drug screens) are the best combination for determining integrity fit.

Job seekers often overlook this area of fit. Aligning yourself with a company that does not uphold the same level of integrity that you possess can damage your credibility, place you in compromising situations and has even resulted in jail time for some employees. Integrity fit can be difficult for applicants to determine since employers are often putting their best foot forward (as are candidates) during the interview process. My suggestion is to research the company. You may also be able to glean information from current employees. Access to current employees can sometimes be found through corporate job boards or social networking. I would also encourage you to talk about integrity in an interview and pay attention to the respondent's body language.

Job Seeker Integrity Fit:

  • Ask the interviewer and/or current employees: Have you ever been asked to do something you didn’t feel comfortable doing?

  • Research recent company news events.

  • Research legal cases against the company.


Employer Integrity Fit:

  • Does the past behavior of this candidate align with someone who is loyal, dependable and emotionally intelligent?

  • Does this candidate actively engage with the companies they work for and become a brand ambassador? Does your company actively engage employees?

  • How does the candidate speak about previous employers and supervisors?

  • Does the candidate take responsibility for mistakes they’ve made in the past (or is it always someone else’s fault?)

  • Why and how frequently does the candidate move on to another role or company?

  • Does the candidate learn from mistakes they’ve made?

  • Does the candidate do the right thing when no one is looking?

  • Has the candidate followed your recruiting process and instructions or have they tried to bypass it? (Keep in mind with this one that there is a lot of advice out there to not follow the standard process, so this may not always be an indication of a rebellious or entitled personality.)


Considering all these different aspects of “fit” can seem like a lot of work and can take time. However, my clients who spend the time finding the right fit in all these aspects are far more satisfied than those who do not. For job seekers, they avoid job hopping and feel comfortable in their work environment. For employers, they have far less turnover and performance issues when they take the time to find their best overall fit.

Let’s start a conversation. Are there other areas of “fit” that you consider as a Recruiter, hiring manager or Job Seeker? How do you balance fit and diversity as an employer?