What The Heck Does ‘Fit’ Mean Anyway?

It’s “fit” week here at the HR Introvert. Does anyone really know what that word means?

The interview team gets together at the end of the day to discuss their findings of the candidate.

“I liked her,” says Joe, leading off. “I thought she presented herself well and would be able to do the job. I think she’s a good fit.”

Maryan agrees, saying “She understands the data we are working from as well as anyone here, and she communicates effectively. I just don’t know if she adds anything to the team. It’s like she is a direct replacement for John, and we agreed we are looking for someone who we felt would be a stronger performer than he was. She is a good fit, and can do the job, but can she help us move that group to a new level?”

Mike, the hiring manager, speaks up and says “Thanks for that input Maryan. It is my job to move that team up a notch or two, not the candidate’s. The problem I have is we can’t seem to find that ‘next level’ player who is a good fit for the team.”

Have you heard this conversation before? Once someone says “fit” does that start to move the process into a ‘hire’ or ‘no hire’ disposition?

Some people hear “fit” and they think – someone who will get along well with the other people they will work closely with. Someone who already matches our basic culture in terms of temperament and work style.

Then there are others who define fit as the ability to effectively manage and execute the challenges of the job.

For me, that second definition is why we are interviewing, not the first. Cultural fit is important, but you can fit too well. A strong cultural fit might even weaken the team. It depends on what the base culture is.

It’s Fit Week at the HR Introvert his week, and I will have a couple of follow-up posts on this topic. Next up: Diversity and Fit.

4 Responses to What The Heck Does ‘Fit’ Mean Anyway?

  1. Hi Tim, interesting post, have you got any examples around the following?

    Cultural fit is important, but you can fit too well. A strong cultural fit might even weaken the team.

    • Bruce-
      I’ll add a post on that later this week, but the general concept is that finding more of the same type of people can mean missed opportunity for the business. Let’s say it’s a team of product innovators, and they have common university ties or community ties, but the customer base is much broader. Good research can inform the team, but having a broader team that is better connected to the customer base could provide strategic advantage.

      • Hi Tim,

        Got you and I think you’re right. When you say More of the same people, it reminded me of an abstract I came across earlier in the year which seems to back up your point. Here’s an extract:

        >>>
        I unpack the interpersonal processes through which cultural similarities affected candidate evaluation in elite firms and provide the first empirical demonstration that shared culture— particularly in the form of lifestyle markers — matters for employer hiring
        <<<

        Good research can inform the team, but having a broader team that is better connected to the customer base could provide strategic advantage.

        This makes me think of diversity along with fit.

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