Hiring for fit – smart or convenient?

There’s a ton of information out there on why you should hire for fit, and more and more companies are relying on interviews that measure how well personality and working style mesh with their current team. This approach is catching on for a number of reasons, including making sure your team works cohesively; hiring less experienced workers that are cheaper and trainable; and taking on people that align with your company’s values to propel it forward.

But while values are a key part of any organization’s structure, hiring for fit may not be the greatest business strategy.

Here’s why:

Same old, same old

When you’re hiring for fit, you’ll often find yourself looking for common personality traits and a particular working style across an array of different job functions. Are you expecting your web developer to embody a similar working pace and attitude as an account manager, or an HR specialist?

It’s important to remember that when you’re looking for an exact fit, you might end up with a workforce of people who are all generally very alike, and that isn’t necessarily what a growing business requires. While affirming each other’s views and getting along so well, your company may be plugging away at the same old strategy and products while your competitors are innovating.

So even if you’re doing well for quite some time, it won’t be long before you look up and realize things have stagnated. You don’t want to get behind on the times, and people that are different than you can often be the ones to bring valuable insight and ideas to the table.

Differing views can move things forward

Imagine your Facebook feed and the many discussions you’ve been a part of or watched from afar. This could be a fair representation of your social circle – people you tend to agree with for the most part, people who echo your views, defending it to the end when an opposition comes to play. This is a great demonstration of “fit” – since groups of peers or friends usually come together based, at least in part, on common ground.

But it often takes a differing view to move things forward. If you find a handful of people who are the right fit, who all tend to agree on things and gravitate toward the same ideas, who’s really thinking beyond what’s in front of them? Your chances of standing out from the crowd and innovating something different are pretty low.

Everything in moderation

With all that being said, hiring for fit isn’t all bad, as long as it’s done in moderation. The key is to remember that qualifications, skills and experience still matter. A great attitude should be a pre-req for any new hire, and if someone isn’t necessarily into beer cart Friday or weekly events, it shouldn’t be held against them. In many cases, people already spend more time at work than they do at home with family or friends, so if they aren’t into socializing with the people they see almost every single day, it doesn’t mean they won’t mesh well with your team. It might actually mean they have a great understanding of balance.

So, the next time you’re hiring, don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone.

Remember that while it’s important that your team be aligned on company values and goals – we’re living in an interconnected world – one that’s diverse and constantly changing. A place where in order for an organization or idea to be successful, they shouldn’t necessarily be relying on cultural references.

Who knows, you might find that hiring someone who isn’t your ideal fit is actually the best thing you ever did.

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