Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

How to Interview Candidates For Fit

Just like people, every company has its own personality. A job candidate truly can’t be summed up by a simple paper resume, no matter how impressive that resume is. Likewise candidates can’t know what a company is like just by browsing through a website or researching its history. Finding the perfect fit between candidates and company is essential to building a talented and happy team.

Like any good puzzle, finding the right fit can often be time consuming and difficult. With more than half of employers reducing or having already reduced recruitment budgets, there’s less room for error now with new hires. As you know, a lot of time and training goes into getting a new hire up to speed, and this process is repeated with the next hire.

Not every candidate you hire will be perfect match for the long-haul, but there are plenty of ways to avoid losing employees due to a mismatch in overall company fit. The hiring process is essential to ensuring candidates will be able to hit the ground running and enjoy the sprint.

There is no point in completely reinventing the wheel, as we can all learn from the best. It’s important to look at the interview process of prominent organizations like Google and Zappos, both which have made Forbes list of the best places to work. How do they do it? By ensuring the talent they hire meshes with the overall corporate culture. For instance, Google often asks candidates math questions or questions not entirely related to the job they’re interviewing for. They do this to assess the critical thinking and problem solving skills of potential hires.

Zappos, on the other hand, encourages their job candidates to get weird. Zappos interviews candidates based on a core set of values the company holds. One of those values is to “create fun and a little weirdness.” During the hiring process recruiters ask candidates to rate themselves on a 1 to 10 weirdness scale. Seem strange? Zappos finds this method effective to weed out candidates who are too wacky or too strait-laced.

Like these companies, it’s important for you to think critically about your company culture before the interview process begins. Is it an environment where self-sufficiency is prized or is teamwork the name of the game? Is the company more traditional or a little kooky? Determine the core values of the company and how potential hires should align with them. Imagine the perfect employee for your particular company and write down this fictional candidate’s attributes.

Once you have a general list, get more specific. Look at the position beyond the realm of qualifications. Does the position call for a people person or someone who can go it alone? What personality would thrive in this position and what personality would wither? If you end up hiring a great candidate with a personality that doesn’t mesh with the job, odds are you’ll be hiring again soon.

Once you have a good handle of the kind of personality and drive needed to succeed, not just in the position but in the overall culture of the company, it’s time to think up questions. Try to think of questions not asked constantly in interview environments. If you’re asking the same questions as everyone else, candidates are probably using canned answers. This means you’re not really learning much about the candidate’s true personality, just hearing what they think you want to hear.

So when it comes time to ask your questions, mix things up! Ask whether a candidate is a dog or a cat person. This could tell you about a candidate’s love of loyalty or self-sufficiency. Ask about the last book a candidate read. This can tell you not just about the personality of a potential hire, but also their ambition. If they name a book about your industry, you know they’re serious about their career path. If you go this route though, be sure to ask follow up questions to make sure the candidate has actually read the book and isn’t just naming a title they think will make them sound impressive.

Knowing what you’re looking for and interviewing for fit will pay dividends when you hire the perfect employee. Employees that fit well into the corporate culture will not only reduce the cost of additional hires, but they will contribute great things to an organization. They will bring their passion and creativity to your company. And best of all? These are the employees that will remain with your company for the long run.

Image Courtesy of The Marketess.

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writers career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Connect with Heather and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.