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Good Fit/Bad Fit

As you watch the just terminated employee walk out the door you think to yourself "It just wasn't a good fit." How many times have you heard that from others or even said it to yourself? And it is true, it wasn't a good fit.

By "fit" what are we talking about? Before you read any further stop and define "fit" for yourself. Got it? OK.

We usually start with consideration of the hard skills needed for the position. In the job description we may specify the need for a particular degree, certification or registration (RN, MHA, MBA, Windows NT Certified, etc.). We may also know that there are certain skills or experiences required (3 years experience in.). The job description will then go on to describe the duties and responsibilities of the position. From there we solicit candidates, review resumes and work histories, interview promising candidates, check references and validate credentials, perhaps conduct a final interview, and then make an offer. Our new employee shows up for work and we send them off to orientation and hope for the best.

These candidates may "fit" the need for certain hard skills, experiences and credentials, but more can and should be done. More difficult than defining the hard skills are specifying and then systematically probing candidates for evidence of the soft skills required for success in the position. By soft skills we are talking about things like:

  • Decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity/Innovation
  • Diplomacy
  • Interpersonal skills

The list goes on, but you get the idea. Remember that not all jobs are the same and therefore may require different soft skill competencies. This means you must give very careful consideration to the soft skills required for every position. There is probably a core set of soft skills for a med/surg nurse or housekeeper, but not all management positions require the same soft skill competencies. So give this careful consideration.

With this done, develop interview questions that will elicit evidence of the soft skills required for the position. Use open-ended questions that require a thoughtful, extended response (i.e., something that cannot be answered "yes" or "no").

And one last area to consider: what are the behavioral and motivational requirements of the position? Often "bad fit" is due to mismatching someone with a behavioral style that differs from what the job requires. For example, if the position requires someone to manage a process that demands close attention to detail and that produces a work product that needs to be correct every time, don't select someone who is unsystematic, independent, and careless with details.

There are many tools available to assist organizations with soft skill competency, behavioral and motivational identification. Maxwell & Associates would be happy to discuss these tools with you. But whatever you do in this tight labor market, make the very best selections you can using a more thorough and thoughtful selection process that helps assure you of great fit!

Copyright Richard B. Maxwell III - 2004

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Maxwell & Associates
1012 Embassy Row Way • Seabrook Island, SC 29455-6005 • Voice 843-768-2227 • Fax 843-768-2170 •

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