Finding the Best Fit

If you don't know what you're looking for, how will you know if you've found it?

By: Terri Hammond

The goal of an interview is to determine whether a given candidate matches the position available. If our hiring process doesn’t provide a clear answer to this fundamental question, we will make inappropriate hires and our business will suffer.
To fill a position, we need clarity – a lot of it. We’re looking for 4 things to be clear any time we’re ready to hire someone:

1. Is the position clear? That is, has the organization carefully evaluated its needs, evaluated the functions required and designed a position that fits? And does the candidate understand the position that’s available?

2. Is the vision clear for what the new hire will bring?  (HINT: If the position is clear, this vision is also usually clear.) At ThistleSea, we view this through the lens of the “3Cs” – competence, commitment, and chemistry. When we’ve got a vision for the new hire, we should be able to say things like:

Not ideal on the "commitment" scale.

Not ideal on the "commitment" scale.

  • Competence: The new hire needs to: have advanced typing skills and knowledge of MS Office, have supervisory experience of at least 3 people in the past, and be exceptionally good at written and phone communication.

  • Commitment: The new hire needs to: be self-motivated and self-directed, handle stress well and calmly, and have an attitude that views errors as experience. Is the candidate willing to do what it takes to perform at a high level?

  • Chemistry: The new hire needs to: be collaborative and supportive of the team, and be comfortable with goals and goal-setting for her/himself and others. Will the candidate fit well in the current company culture?

3. Is the vision clear for what this candidate can bring? When a real person is sitting in front of us, we need to know if they demonstrate the 3Cs we’re seeking! The interview questions we ask should elicit responses that reveal the competencies, level of commitment and chemistry that would make the candidate a good cultural fit.

4. Does our vision match what the candidate can bring? If they match, this candidate might be a good hire. If they don’t match, we need to be honest about whether our organization can accommodate the mismatches. Following the interview, we should be able to explain clearly the matches and mismatches. If we can’t do this, we may need to change our interview questions.

Too often, we ask supervisors or HR staff members with only cursory knowledge of a position to interview candidates. It’s a bad idea.
You’ll only recognize the right person when you know the 3Cs needed to be successful in that role – and you see that the candidate has got them.

If you're looking to upgrade your talent, we can help.

"If they don't really want the job, they won't quit unexpectedly."

Or "Eating an elephant one bite at a time."

I decided to write this series after reflecting on my time as a client at ThistleSea (I'm the only one in our office who can do this). This may give you an idea of why someone might hire a business coach.

When you're working in a business that kind of has HR systems, the first major step forward is a big one. It's job descriptions. And it's not just job descriptions - it's the performance standards that go along with them.

When I realized that our hiring practices were tied fairly directly to my foot pain (see previous post), I decided that there was no avoiding the next big step. (After all, I was only 34 and I had only two feet that were supposed to last me for the next 60 years.)

Here's what I did:

  1. I listed every position in the company. There were 13.
  2. I figured out which job descriptions were the closest to "already done." (After all, we had job descriptions. They just weren't nearly detailed enough.)
  3. I looked at my calendar, and I blocked off time to work on this. I knew if I tried to do it during the work day, I'd just place it lower and lower on my priority list and it would never get done. So I selected Saturday mornings, from 9 am until 1 pm at the local coffee shop.
  4. I made a pledge not to work on the job descriptions at all, except the time I had set aside to do it.
  5. I showed up on the first Saturday at 9:00 am and got to work.

I won't sugarcoat this process. It wasn't easy, and it required tremendous focus. It took roughly 6 months.

As I finished my first draft of each position, I met with the manager who supervised that particular role. I asked him/her, "How'd I do with this? Does this accurately represent the duties and responsibilities you expect each employee in this role to do? What did I leave out? What did I capture incorrectly? You're the expert... could you share your expert opinion?"

  • Some managers had immediate feedback.
  • Some needed time to think. (Of course, I made sure to schedule a follow-up meeting.)
  • Some said, "This is good, but would it be okay if I got the employees' input? I bet they'll have even more feedback than I will." (<--Another lesson for me to use in the future.)
This is kind of what your company looks like to new hires when you don't have good job descriptions in place.

This is kind of what your company looks like to new hires when you don't have good job descriptions in place.

I shared that once we got the job descriptions the way we wanted them, I'd be coming around again for their expert opinions on the performance standards. (I set them up to be ready for the next round.)

This was a collaborative process and a challenging one, and I won't lie and say that every manager was enthusiastic about contributing. Not all were. However, when they were finished, a few things happened immediately:

  • Job candidates noticed and commented on our level of professionalism.
  • Some job candidates removed themselves from the candidate pool (Good news for my feet! If they don't really want the job, they won't quit unexpectedly and add 10 hours to my week.).
  • Existing staff members asked questions and gave suggestions about their current roles.
  • Communication increased overall.

As a client, I experienced the weight of the task of writing job descriptions and performance standards. So as a coach, I understand why clients are reluctant to do it and choose to focus on other parts of their HR systems. It's not always possible for the owner of a company to write them her/himself. But it must be done. Drop us a line if you'd like some help with yours.