Hiring for Fit – Mismatch Insurance

It goes without saying that the best way to insure hiring a good fit for an opening is to avoid hiring the candidates that are not the best fit. In order to plan a methodology to hire for fit means rethinking many of the traditional human resources standard practices that have contributed to hiring mistakes in the past. Even after a total hiring paradigm shift there is always the chance that someone will slip through the gates and force a need for preplanned corrective action. Sometimes adding something or someone new to the mix takes an unplanned direction and the entire organization may need a stepped up feedback process to keep everyone engaged and following the course toward common goals and objectives.

Continuing to do things the same way will always conclude with the same results. Consider altering traditional practices to accommodate hiring for cultural fit.

  1. Job descriptions are typically a document used by Compensation to evaluate and determine the salary level for a position. It is not a contract to work, but many see it as a measure of candidate requirements. Many who should know better will copy these skeletal requirements word for word and post it as a job ad. True descriptions of a fitted candidate will also include the interface relationships to other jobs and relative position in the company. Traditional job descriptions are supposed to define a job. Fitted descriptions define a person.
  2. Performance management traditionally sets goals and objectives to be completed for a satisfactory evaluation. There is rarely a sliding scale to define how someone exceeds expectations. If a goal is not really expected to be accomplished in a timely manner then it really is not a goal after all. Annual review systems are archaic and don’t work. They give feedback too late and sometimes not at all. Setting expectations means defining what it means to perform above and beyond an average worker. Combined group evaluations reward teamwork over individual efforts.

Interviewing also needs to be changed drastically. Jack Welch was quoted, “In interviews, ask candidates about their last job — and then shut up for a good, long while. As they describe what they liked and what they didn’t, you will likely hear much of what you really need to know about fit.” Several other things help this to happen.

  1. Prescreen candidates using telephone or video interviewing to verify the basic needs of the job and not just the usual resume review and salary history. Screening interviews are real interviews and should be done by the hiring manager or someone qualified to determine fit.
  2. Prepare candidates for the interview by letting them know exactly what to expect in the form of interviews and the people with whom they will be speaking. Allow them to be prepared to present themselves. Share the mission and the passion. Don’t hide anything. Trying to measure how they handle an unknown situation tells nothing about how they will perform on the job.
  3. Prepare interviewers for the candidates. Teach them how to hire for potential and monitor feedback for non-work related assessments or rationalization of bad answers. Evaluation of fit to company values and beliefs is important to prevent mismatched hires.

Have a process for fixing mistakes when they do happen. Sometimes the hire is excellent but the job is flawed. In a NY Times interview, Bryan Burkhart, founder of H. Bloom stated “It’s awful to part with employees, particularly when they are good people who are good at their jobs. But if it turns out that you don’t need a particular position, the only thing you can do is to make a change to make room for the people and the positions you really do need.” This is especially true in smaller organizations.

  1. Educate or terminate are the only two alternatives for a mismatched employee. It is inevitable that some corrective action will have to be made as the company or employee changes. Failure of an employee to adjust to a changing situation means that the employee has failed. Failure to recognize the problem means the company has failed.
  2. Look for another position within the company if there is the ability to salvage the career of a deserving individual. If none are available, go a step beyond simple outplacement and actively introduce the candidate to other companies.

Insurance against a mismatch doesn’t really exist. Only considering the end game will bring in employees that will fit the future needs of the company. It is a mutual bonding of employee needs and company direction.

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