“Fit” is the Current Buzzword in Hiring Practices—Thoughts?

29 Oct

The #1 Thing Hiring Managers Are Looking For

by Kristin Flink Kranias — August 27, 2012 —

We’ve all been there before: You interview for the seemingly perfect job opportunity, and you make all the right moves, but somehow you’re passed up in the final round. Worse, the feedback you get is unsatisfying, too—you’re told there are just too many qualified applicants.

But what’s the real reason? And what really makes the difference between many equally competent candidates?

To find out, we thought about our experiences hiring at our start-up Hipiti and from previous careers in consulting and investing, then we asked 10 of the most prolific hirers we know. We talked to HR directors at billion dollar companies, founders of top recruiting firms, and hiring managers at fast-growing start-ups. And we heard similar advice from every one of them: Standing out from the equally-qualified pack and getting that job offer most often boils down to “fit.”

What does “fit” really mean? While there are nuances by role and industry, we found a lot of commonality in our experts’ definitions:

“It’s not about how similar you are to your interviewer. Fit is about having a unique perspective that enhances the team while also proving you’ll get along with the team.”

“All else equal, fit is someone who would make a seamless transition into the department from day one.”

“Fit is someone who has a genuine, demonstrated interest in the company and product on top of a creative approach to the role.”

“Fit is the person I would be most excited to have walk into the office the next day.”

“It’s finding someone that I’ll want to go have a beer or glass of wine with outside the office because they can keep me interested.”

Some of that seems pretty straightforward—you either fit in somewhere, or you don’t. But the truth is, there are some key things you can do to show the interviewer how you stand out from all of the other candidates. Here’s what we learned about making sure your “fit” shines through:

1. Understand the Culture

Sounds obvious, but in order to show you fit in, you need to know what, specifically, the company stands for. It especially helps to know how the firm stands out compared to the competitors in its industry. For example, one of our expert’s firms is known as the down-to-earth and laid back competitor in its field. And interviewers there are immediately turned off by hints of arrogance and boasting that might be viewed positively by other firms in their industry.

So do your research, and then show you understand the company and the position by weaving what you learn into your application and your interview.

2. Do Your Homework on Your Interviewer

Same goes with your interviewers. You won’t always know who you’re meeting with, but if you do, make sure you know their background and reputation to the extent possible—including what type of behavior might intrigue them or turn them off.

Then, prep some questions that are specific to each interviewer: Ask for details about her focus at the firm, discuss current events on her specialty, or bring up a common interest you know she has outside the office. When I interviewed candidates in my previous career, I always appreciated conversations where interviewees asked questions that showed they had read my bio—or, better yet, found a personal connection.

3. Talk to People at the Company (Before Your Interview)

It’s also important to show how you’ll fit in to the company outside of the official interview. Use your friends and acquaintances (think LinkedIn, BranchOut, alumni groups) to research any connections you have with current employees, then reach out to them for coffee or an informational interview. This is a great way not only to gather intelligence for your interview, but to show everyone there how interested you are in the position.

Just remember: Every interaction you have with someone at the company has the potential to be evaluated as part of the hiring process. Be prepared for this, and keep things interview-level professional, even on friendly introductory calls.

4. Show How Your Experience is Relevant

One of the most important ways to show you’re the right person for the job is to spell out for the interviewer how you would fit in to the position and the company’s goals. Giving a few examples of how your past experience is transferrable shows that you’ve thought through how you would fit in to the organization—and makes things crystal clear for the hiring manager, too.

And if you’re changing roles or industries? Don’t worry—this doesn’t have to be a direct connection. In fact, it’s often more impressive when a candidate can make seemingly irrelevant experience seem very relevant to the role he or she is interviewing for. One expert, who leads marketing at a retailer, explains how a recent hire came from technology and managed to totally impress her by sharing specific ways she could translate her tech marketing tools to retail. She got the job because of her fresh ideas and creativity.

5. Make Your Enthusiasm Known

If you really want to work at a particular company, let it be known in multiple ways. Write it in your cover letter, share it during the interview, reiterate it in a follow up email (or even a hand-written note!), and attend company or industry events. You never want an interviewer to second-guess your interest in a position (not to mention, every interviewer likes to think they work at a desirable place!). So, show them the love in all of your interactions.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice

Different firms use different interview formats—it’s part of their culture. For example, some companies will ask case questions or brain teasers while others will give a standard set of typical interview and leadership questions.

Asking the recruiter or HR contact about the interview format ahead of time is totally fair game. And once you know, investing time to become familiar with this style can make a huge difference. Part of the practice is hearing yourself answer the questions you think you’ll be asked out loud. So grab your roommate, call your parents, or find anyone you can who will listen. Then, have them ask you the questions, listen to your answers, and give honest feedback. Did you sound genuine? Excited? Relaxed? Professional? All of these things will help show that you’re the right person for the job.

Take it from our experts: Following these tips can put you well on your way to getting your dream job. Yes, you’ll have to spend time preparing and practicing, but it’ll all be worth it when it comes time to show that you’re the best fit.


Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


7 responses to ““Fit” is the Current Buzzword in Hiring Practices—Thoughts?

  1. traveler012

    October 31, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I can’t say that I have been to many interviews in my life (two to be exact). One was a group interview which was very strange, and one was a personal one. But both were experiences, I got both jobs. I can’t say that these particular tips helped me at all, but the jobs I was applying for didn’t really fit into the “professional” category. However these do seem like common sense, smart things to do if you are truely interested in a position for in the company. I will definitely keep all these points in mind when I do break into the professional world.

  2. tex2524

    November 1, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I myself have only had the oppurtnity to partake in one interview so far in my life. That interview was to accquire a job at Tim Hortons. The interview went well due to the fact that I was prepared, and really enthusiastic about the oppurtunity. I feel as if these 6 tips are pretty much a given for anybody that is serious about the posistion they are interviewing for.Whether it’s at Tim Hortons or if you are trying to break through and be successful in the professional world. I find these tips very simple, but if utilized properly they could greatly contribute to your interview success.

  3. harajukugirl12

    November 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I have taken part in many different interviews in my life thus far. I was given these tips by everyone who was trying to prepare me for my interview. These tips were very helpfulin the interview process. I have had very successful interviews resulting in offers to study abroad, great jobs and internships across the country. These tips may seem like common sense, but being prepared and knowledgable about the company can greatly increase your odds of getting hired. You need to make yourself memorable. Make them say “I liked this person. Let’s put them in the interested in pile.” You will get a job easier if you are prepared and knowledgable. You will gain success in your career.

  4. joylanadventurer01

    November 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I have only had one interview in my life. I cannot say that I utilized many if any of these points. I may not seem like the kind of person that would do something haphazardly, or without preparing. However, I am quite that person indeed. I hate to plan things out, I hate to think of how things are going to go. I hate the feelings it elicits inside of me. I would rather go into something without any idea or sense of how it is going to play out and just see what happens. It is more exciting and fun for me to do this. When I went for my interview, I was not prepared at all. I did not think about it beforehand, I just kind of got a call and said i’d come in. About the only planned part was me going in. I never thought what they would ask or try to relate the job to myself. God knows I never went over the questions they would ask and reiterate the answers to myself. Basically I just told them I wanted a job, I didn’t care what I did, or how they utilized me, I just desired a job. And guess what? It actually worked. Not saying it will work for everyone, but this is just how I am. If it works for me, then that is how I will combat these instances.

  5. flapjack92

    November 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Considering I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, I’d say that these tips are really useful to have. I’m a manager at my workplace and have helped in the interviewing process when my boss wasn’t around, I’ve also had 3-4 interviews myself. Being honest and really proving that you want to work where you’re being interviewed are two extremely important things to bring to the interview. I like seeing when people have a genuine passion or are visibly excited that they’re having an interview and are trying really hard not to mess it up. I don’t have that professional of a job, so to be honest, I would be kind of creeped out if the person I was interviewing read up on me and found my interests and what not, but besides that I think that these are all important aspects to bring to the table at an interview!

  6. countrygirl895

    December 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Fit is a hard concept to define. It’s not something that can be described in an article, but employers usually know instantly when meeting a prospective employee if they will fit in with the company. In my summer job, the only way to get hired is to fit in with the girls who already work there. If you think high school is the only place where fitting in will get you somewhere, that’s so wrong. The chemistry between a company and their employees needs to be undeniable. Each company has an image they want to reflect to the world and anything that deviates from this has potential to screw up the work they put into setting that standard. I believe no matter what sort of business someone is looking to get hired at in life they will be evaluated on how well they mesh with the company as a whole. These tips really can allow a potential employee to have an advantage while interviewing, making them more likely to get the job.

  7. sony112

    December 18, 2012 at 5:04 am

    The tips given here seem to be extremely helpful. it makes perfect sense to research the company you intend to employ you. The tip that i find most interesting is showing that your experience is relevant. i think that showing what you have don before is something that should be left for the resume. Practice definilty makes perfect in this situation. Speaking to employees with inquisitive and meaningful questions is a key factor in knowing what you will get from a company that is going to interview you. knowing who will interview you and doing research on them can help when dealing with personalities in the interview room. The reputation an how the company conducts buissnes is extremely important and useful information as well


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