Find your fit

Improve your interviewing practices to choose the best employees for your company.

You run a small irrigation business. Things are going well and your business is taking off. However, now you have to do something you dread: hire another technician.

You have three candidates coming in to interview this afternoon. This is not your area of expertise and, let’s face it, hiring these days is tough. It’s a challenge just trying to find someone who will show up for the interview, let alone the first week of work. You are thinking to yourself, “You know what, I’m making an offer to anyone who shows up and we’ll figure it out from there. Hiring is like gambling anyway and it’s more about luck. I hope I hit the lottery with one of them.”

My job is to help you reduce the amount of luck you are relying on and add more skill to your hiring game, and you need something for this afternoon’s candidates. Here is a 10-question do-it-yourself, practical approach to “hiring for fit.”

The first part includes five interview questions to ask about the role you’re hiring for, the second part includes five interview questions to ask the candidate, and then we will put the two parts together using the three-candidate example.

Start with the job

To start, interview the job. This may sound strange, but let the job talk. What is the job looking for? Determine what you want. Don’t be lazy here. The lazy way out is saying you want someone who can do it all. If that’s where you’re at, you’re setting yourself up for a poor hire that won’t be able to live up to that standard. Put some thought into what you want from the job’s perspective. After all, what could a bad hiring decision cost your company?

Here are five questions to help define what you want in a particular job.

  • What are the top three things the person in this job should spend the most time doing?
  • Is the job more customer-facing (deals with a lot of people) or solo (work by yourself)?
  • Is this job a task-first type of job or is it a people-first type of job?
  • Besides a paycheck, what rewards does this job provide?
  • Why would someone want this job and work at your company?

One pro tip is to remember that your answers are 100% biased. Seek out the independent answers of other people who know the job well for their perspective.

Next, interview the candidate. Determine what the candidate wants and is looking for in a job. One of my leadership truths is “everybody wants something.” Ideally, you are looking to fulfill two wants. First, you want to hire people who can be themselves on the job most of the time. Second, you want to hire people who feel energized by the daily rewards of the job. You determine what someone wants by asking better interview questions.

The interview questions should have some connection to what you want, and the candidate’s answers will help determine what the candidate wants.

Here are five questions to help determine what a candidate wants in a particular job.

  • What type of work do you most enjoy?
  • Which do you enjoy more: working with people or working on things?
  • Do you enjoy working by yourself or working with others?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • Why do you want to be a landscaper?

Put it into practice

Let’s look at an example putting the parts together interviewing three candidates.

Start with the beginning questions. You want to hire a technician. This role will spend 70% of its time working independently in the field and 30% of the time in the office with the team. The technician needs to be on time and on budget with the projects. Someone who likes to solve problems and work outside on their own while being part of a small team would enjoy this job.

Then, you have three candidates to interview. You ask each the same two questions.

  • Question #1: Tell me what type of work you enjoy most.
    – Candidate A: “I would much rather work on my own. I like it when it’s just me on the project.”
    – Candidate B: “I hate working on my own, I love to work with people!”
    – Candidate C: “It doesn’t matter. I don’t really care either way. I can work alone or with other people.”
  • Question #2: Tell me why you want to work here as a landscaper.
    – Candidate A: “I enjoy being outside, I have always had an interest in plants. My grandfather was a farmer.”
    – Candidate B: “I think it would be so cool to make someone’s house look better. I love curb appeal!”
    – Candidate C: “I heard you offer a signing bonus, and you have health insurance.”

Finally, put the pieces together. One of these candidates is a high-risk fit. It’s Candidate C. If you hire Candidate C, it doesn’t mean they won’t do the job. It does mean the job will be more like work to them because the fit isn’t as good and it’s just not them. Candidate C doesn’t appear passionate about the job, the company or the industry.

Candidate A appears to fit what you’re looking for, so we will call them a low-risk fit. Candidate A is not perfect, but we’re not looking for perfect. Candidate B interviewed really well, was friendly and easy to talk to. Candidate B could be considered a medium-risk fit. If we hire Candidate B, we know we’re hiring an outgoing people-person for a solo-task job.

The choice is now yours. When hiring for fit, determine what you want, compare it to what the candidate wants, determine the fit risk and make your choice. By intentionally taking these steps, you will reduce the amount of luck involved and will make better hiring decisions.

Ryan Lisk is the second-generation owner of Lisk Associates. Lisk Associates has been in business for 31 years with expertise in the areas of hiring for fit, professional development and RealTime Coaching. He is available via email.

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