The Interview Intangible – Fit

Picture of lined up black work shoes - with a pair of red converse sneakers standing out, in the middleYou thought you’d found your job.

You read the advert and honestly, it could have been written for you. 

You could tick off every single thing they were looking for; you had the training, the skills, the experience – the lot.

You thought it had your name on it.

And then you didn’t get it. 

If this has ever happened to you, I truly commiserate. There is nothing quite like watching ‘your job’ float right past you and land in someone else’s lap. I can still remember the one that got away – and it was almost 20 years ago.

What went wrong? I had everything, right? Wrong.

Here’s the thing about recruitment. You think you’re being called to interview to prove you can do the job. And yes, you are… but only to a point.

By the time you’re invited to interview, we pretty much know you can do the job. Interviewing is hugely expensive, and honestly, we wouldn’t waste our time interviewing someone we didn’t think was capable.

If you got to the interview stage, your resume did its job – and that’s great feedback. But what your resume can’t tell us? What you’re actually like.

Your energy level and personal style. How you interact with people. The way you think, talk, approach things. Your sense of humour. In short, whether you’ll slot right in like a long-lost team-mate… or stand out like the proverbial.

Sounds personal, and it is – but I encourage you not to take it personally.

Every organization has its own culture – its own ‘feel’ or personality, its own ways of doing things – and teams have subcultures. Any good manager takes care in changing that mix. It only takes one new person to throw out team dynamics and upset the apple-cart.

The bouncy, high energy chatterbox in a team that likes quiet, peace and privacy. Laid-back Larry in a work-hard, play-hard office. The lone wolf competitor in a team of collaborators… or a bleeding heart in a hard-nosed, cut-throat company.

Getting the team fit wrong can have huge repercussions. Just think of the ‘bad’ teams you’ve known…  Poor fit, high tension, low morale. Bad for you, bad for business.

That’s why, when I was recruiting, the final choice always came down to fit – and I’m not alone; according to Forbes, 88% of recruiters look for ‘cultural fit’ above all else. Whether you fit should you be just as important to you! After all, when you sign up for a job, you don’t just take on the tasks – you take on the team too.

So, do yourself a favour, before you turn up for interview – or better still, before you even apply – and first find out the culture of an organisation. What are their values? How do they work? What are they like?  Research it any way you can; talk to friends, find insiders, ask if you can meet the team…

At the very least, ask about culture in the interview. Yes, they’re interviewing you… but remember, you’re interviewing them too. Is this the right fit for you? The more you know yourself, the better you can play to your strengths…

With preparation, you can use your ‘fit’ to your absolute advantage.

So. If you didn’t get the job – or you don’t get the next one – I truly sympathise. Rejection stings, full stop. But if fit was part of the problem (and the woollier the feedback, the more likely this is), then you might want to re-think things. You may well have dodged a bullet…

Because the only thing that’s worse than losing out on the job?

Getting it – in a place you really don’t belong. 

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