Hiring is a delicate art. First, you need someone with the right skills and qualifications to do the job. But beyond that, you need a person who will fit in with your team and company culture.
Finding that right blend of knowledge, experience and personality can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Of course, certain elements are easier to assess than others. Identifying a person capable of doing the job isn’t all that difficult. Usually, you can look at a candidate’s experience, education, work samples and accomplishments to gauge his or her skillset. In some cases, you may even request that the candidate take a test, or complete a certain task or project to ensure he or she possesses the necessary skills.
The far more nuanced part of hiring is in finding the right “fit” for your team and company—the person with the right workstyle, personality, emotional intelligence, communication style, sense of humor, attitude and so on. These qualities aren’t nearly so easy to assess. Yet, they are equally important. In fact, some organizations deem them even more important than job-based qualifications.
Often, the question of “fit” can feel like a guessing game. Employers are blindly trying to figure out who their candidates are and how they’ll work with the existing team dynamic based on very brief and superficial interactions.
If you’re looking to hire and are concerned about fit, take heed. There are a few ways to make this process less speculative. You don’t have to confine yourself to the traditional hiring practices of the past. With a few new strategies, you can remove the guesswork and improve your chances of finding the candidate who really fits.
Conduct Personality Assessments
Personality assessments are a great way to learn more about what makes your candidates tick. Sure, there are some folks who question their validity. But broadly speaking, these tests help you identify key character traits and personality preferences. They are most effective when you know what kind of people you already have on your team and you understand the traits that work best with them. Using an assessment tool—such as DISC or Meyers Briggs—will help you better evaluate how individual candidates are likely to operate in your environment. It’s not always a perfect predictor, but it can be a good way to open a discussion with your candidates to learn more.
Ask Candidates to Shadow
For roles that require a deep level of partnership between individuals, it may be wise to ask candidates to shadow in the role for a few hours or even a day. This is particularly effective for positions such as executive assistants, where the personality match between executive and assistant is crucial for success. However, this kind of request should be made sparingly as it puts a definite strain on the candidate in terms of the time commitment. Only ask those who are in the final running to engage in something like this.
Hold Peer Interviews
Consider involving the entire team in the interview process—or at least the immediate group of people with whom the new hire will be working. With this strategy, you can gather a wide variety of perspectives from the people who have the most direct knowledge about what kind of personality would work best in this role. Plus, the team is more inclined to be welcoming and accepting of new hires when they’ve had a voice in the selection process.
Always Check References
Finally, don’t discount the importance of reference checks. Because professional references are supplied by the candidate, these people are all likely to give positive assessments of their skills and character. That’s no surprise. But you can also use these conversations to better understand the candidate’s personality and what kind of culture/team they thrive in. References offer an outside perspective on the person, which may be different from how the candidate views him/herself.
Finding the right fit for your team and organization is an essential part of successful hiring. It’s also one of the most difficult aspects. Don’t take it for granted. Not every qualified candidate will be a fit. By taking a few additional steps in the hiring process, you can make smart choices that result in happy, productive, long-term team members.