When preparing to fill an open job position, it is a common practice to define role of the open position and create a list of applicant requirements. The screen process then works to weed out candidates that do not fit into the mold defined by the job responsibilities and requirements. This process, called hiring for task, seeks to find the candidate that fits perfectly into the technical requirements of the opening. Jim Collins’ (2001) recent study of top companies showed that companies that excelled over time did not find candidates that fit into the task, but instead found candidates that fit into the organization.
Hiring for fit is the act of finding candidates that best fit into the culture of an organization and then finding roles for them. Collins (2001) calls this getting “the right people on the bus” (p. 41). In his study of 14 great companies and their mediocre competitors, Collins found that the great companies routinely hired talented individuals with no predefined role in the organization. These talented individuals would quickly find the roles that suited them. These individuals were excited about joining the company and had the skills necessary to learn any task the company needed filled. Working for the company was the motivation they needed (Collins, 2001).
Unfortunately, measuring organizational fit before hiring a candidate is a difficult proposition. Quaker Chemical designed an application called the Activity Vector Analysis. The application was designed to establish a behavioral profile to determine how a candidate might react in a given work situation (Montgomery, 1996). For those who do not have the benefit of the Activity Vector Analysis, care must be taken during the interview process to attempt to derive an understanding of a candidate’s personality and how it will fit into the organization. Clifford Montgomery (1996) suggests monitoring the candidate’s style and mannerisms. These subtle clues are more likely to predict the candidate’s probable acceptance by the organization. Bill Carpitella (2001) believes that more listening should be done in the interview. He goes so far as to recommend that no interviewer speak more than 20% of the time. Both of these recommendations focus on the interviewers ability to receive input from the interviewee.
I have made the mistake of hiring for task in the past. While managing a team of highly motivated individuals, I hired an existing employee onto the team. This employee had the requisite skills and had shown high levels of troubleshooting ability in the past. Unfortunately, the existing team members were motivated by their own internal standards and constantly pushed themselves to new heights. The newest member of the team did not have the same drive. Although I had hired someone that fit the technical details of the job description, this person did not fit into the culture of the team and did not last long. The failure in this case was my own. By not hiring the right individual, I created a situation where this highly skilled technician had not choice but to fail.
Carpitella, B. (2001). Interviewing 101: Listen for Organizational Fit. Professional Builder, 66(12), 30. Retrieved June 8, 2009, from MasterFILE Premier database.
Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap… and others don’t. New York: HarperCollins.
Montgomery, C. (1996). Organizational fit is key to job success. HRMagazine, 41(1), 94. Retrieved June 8, 2009, from MasterFILE Premier database.