“Fit Finding” – Hiring Manager Homework!

“Fit Finding” – Hiring Manager Homework!

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 25, 2023

0 Author-Jeanne, FEATURED BLOGS, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, Hiring.Best Practices, Lead Gen Content - Candidate Selection, RECRUITING/CANDIDATE SOURCING get connected


right fit employment employers candidatesFinding and hiring an employee who is that “just right fit” isn’t as easy as it sounds. 

It requires careful planning, and yes,  some high impact homework even before the recruit begins.    

In previous blogs we’ve talked about the 5 areas of fit that we focus on when vetting candidates for “fit” – the real Work Content and Work Environment,  the right Work Style, Motivational profile, and all those logistical issues that need to be identified early in the hiring process.   In this blog we’ll walk you thru the homework a hiring manager needs to do to get prepared to address these five areas – even before they start talking to candidates.    

Hiring Manager Homework….

#1  Get a good understanding of the job’s actual work content –  a “day in the life” of the person doing the job!        

Getting a clear picture of what we call “a day in the life” of the employee doing the job we are trying to staff is always the first step in our fit finding process.  It’s like finding the right key for the door, the right piece for the puzzle.  Once a hiring manager understands the actual work the employee is required to do, the results they are expected to achieve in order to be a successful hire, it is much easier for them to identify a candidate who has the right skills to do the job (the can do) PLUS a candidate who loves using those skills to do the job well (the wanna do).

Most job descriptions do not do a good job of describing a day in the life or outlining the results the employee is expected to achieve.   Many are outdated.  Most are organized in a way that satisfies certain legal requirements, but does very little to facilitate “fit finding” when it comes time to hire.

So if the job description doesn’t offer up the information you need for “fit finding”  what can you do instead?

  • You can both observe and talk to the people who are doing the job now.
    • What do they like about the work?
    • What do they dislike about the work?
    • What are some scenarios they have found to create challenges for the employee doing the job?
    • What are the key skills and/or previous work experiences they believe are most necessary for hiring success?
  • You can review your notes about why previous employees left the job?
    • Do you see any patterns of job dissatisfiers?
    • Have there been any particular scenarios that tend to be talked about as “reasons for leaving?”
  •  You can talk to team members who regularly interact with the person doing the job?
    • What do they see as unique challenges of the role?
    • What skills and/or previous work experience do they think is most important to hiring success
  • You can get clear on the results the right employee will be expected to achieve at various check points in their first year of employment.
    • What do you expect them to have learned or accomplished by the end of their first month, 3rd month, 6th, month, by year end.
    • What levels of performance do you expect at these same intervals.

One of the ways we contribute to our client’s fit finding process is to help them get clear on two things – 1) the skills or work experiences that are actually needed to do the job well and 2) the results the new employee is expected to achieve. 

As example from our own work environment, for most of the temporary roles we fill, fit finding is all about uncovering a job candidate with the right set of skills and work experiences necessary to do the job our client needs them to do NOW. 

For roles where the client wants to invest in the right employee and hire them directly, fit finding is very different – more about  finding candidates not just with the skills to do the job, but with the underlying talents it takes to do the job well, but currently and in the future. 

It also requires the hiring manager to get clear on what a successful hire “will look like” at certain time periods in their investment process.  Particularly for higher level contributors, supervisors or managers, the most helpful thing a hiring manager can do in their pre hire homework is to lay out what they expect the employee to have accomplished or at what level they are expected to perform at key intervals after hire.  For example to be considered a successful hire a new HR/Recruiting Manager might be expected to have achieved the following in their first six months.  

  •  By end of their first month…
    • They will have mastered all of the HR and recruiting relevant software tools used by the HR team
    • They will have had personal meetings with all of the hiring managers they will support over the next 12 months.  They will create profiles of their upcoming needs for staff.  
  • By end of their third month ..
    • They will have created their proposal for a new recruiting process that incorporates best practices and gotten buy in for the plan from the Director of Operations
    • They will have facilitated the hiring of 4 new employees
  • By the end of their sixth month…
    • They will have implemented their plan and gotten buy in to execute the process from all hiring managers
    • They will have overseen the hiring of 12 new employees
    • They will have established productive relationships with all hiring managers and will be considered a helpful resource on all issues related to recruiting, onboarding, and retention   

Once a hiring manager is clear about what is expected of their new hire they have a much better chance of specifying what  skills and work experiences a candidate needs to have in order to achieve these goals.  

FIT happens when what the job requires in terms of skills and previous work experience aligns with what the employee is expected to accomplish or how they are expected to perform once hired.       

#2  Refresh yourself on the company’s mission, beliefs and values and what it’s like to experience those values play out in your everyday work environment.             

When looking for “fit” at the beliefs and values level,  fit finding can take on a variety of looks.   There are candidates who have  very strong personal values and will  not consider a company who isn’t the “right fit”.   Others have less tightly defined values, and can work for a broad range of employers, even those whose values significantly differ from their own.

For the same reasons, there are companies with a very strong set of values that aren’t easily compromised.  They get reflected in their policies or behavioral norms so that as a place to work, the company is only attractive to the type of employee who has similar values.   Other companies are much less value driven and can work with a wide of employees, despite how these employees might behave at work.  (In case you’re wondering,  values have little to no relationship with an employee’s race, ethnicity,  gender, or sexual preference…but more on that later!)

Fit finding in the values area is often about avoiding obvious mismatches.   

Discovering whether or not an employee’s personal values  line up with what a company does for a living, how they do business, or how they treat employees,  requires a hiring manager to be honest about what actually goes on their work environment.    

#3  Take the time to define the critical elements of your “culture” –  how the people on your team tend to work together, how they interact?  solve problems?  acknowledge success?  more…       

The work style component of “fit” is important in today’s work environment because most work is done in the context of a team. Finding the match between how an employee typically behaves in a “team” environment and the behaviors the team expects from its team members, is a big component of “fit”.    Each team is different! 

For example,  employees who enjoy being individual contributors often find it challenging to “fit” into teams where team members are expected to do a lot of their collaboratively.  They make decisions, solve problems together.  If you are a job candidate who hates meetings and the team you are thinking about joining, is meeting rich, chances are the job is not going to be the “right fit” for you.  If you are someone who prefers to work alone and enjoys the challenge of solving problems on your own, a job where individual efforts often go unnoticed is likely not going to be the best fit for you.

Most hiring managers don’t take the time to understand let alone describe the “culture’ of their team – how the team members tend to work with one another.  This is an issue that often leads to early term hiring mistakes.  Even employees who the team “liked” in an interview, are not always the right fit when it comes to aligning their work style with the team’s.

Here’s some questions a Hiring Manager can ask themselves to get clear on the type of work environment their new employee is going to experience on the job…..

  • How does the team know when they are performing successfully?  Are there specific measurements that are important to the team?   How often do those measurements get talked about?
  • Does the team set goals for themselves?  If yes, do they tend to reach those goals?  exceed them?  fall short?   
  • What kind of rewards and/or recognitions does the team enjoy?  Are there opportunities for individual recognition, or is it always the team?
  • How does the team solve problems? Do people work together to solve all issues together, or  does the team expect individuals to solve their own problems?
  • How does the team communicate with one another – formally or informally?
  • How often and in what ways does the team meet together?  
  • How do decisions get made?  Does everyone get a chance to weigh in, or does management just make decisions on the team’s behalf?
  • How does an employee get and give feedback to one another?    

Selecting an employee who has a work style that “fits” requires the team to increase their awareness of how they actually work together, which has very little to do with what team members do on the weekend or after work.   

#4   Get clear on the job has to offer – why the “right employee” would want to take this job.     

After we’ve helped a hiring manager get clear on their “preferred candidate profile” we always ask them what they think would motivate that preferred candidate to “take this job”.  What will this preferred candidate actually get from  saying “I do” to an offer of employment?

You might be surprised to learn how few  hiring managers have clear answers to that question.   And they need to – particularly in today’s marketplace where the best talent has many choices as to  where they will work. Finding motivational fit can’t be an after thought.  

With candidates, fit finding is always about uncovering what they hope to get from their job and why they might select one job over another.

  • Is it a chance to be recognized and promoted based on a highly visible form of personal contribution?
  • What are the typical social interactions (opportunities and expectations) between people on the team or other parts of the company?   
  • What can the right candidate hope to earn in this job?  Are there opportunities for more responsibility?  promotion? 
  • Make sure you have a complete list of the benefits your company offers and how they work?  PTO? HTO?
  • How secure is this role in terms of the future?  What business scenario might trigger a lay off or reconfiguration?  If your employer was forced to downsize would this job be first or last on the list to go, or somewhere in the middle?

Motivational  fit is all about getting clear on what you can (and cannot) offer a potential employee so that you avoid situations where an employee who wants something you can’t provide ends up dissatisfied or frustrated.   


PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 45 years.

A 5-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual independent party surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large “Hiring Help” menu of candidate screening and assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about our “fit finding” process and how it can make a difference to hiring success, lets connect.

If you’re a candidate looking for that job that is the “just right fit”,   contact us at 425-637-3311 or e mail us at candidate services@pacestaffing.com.

If you’re a hiring manager looking for an employee who is that “just right fit”, contact us at 425-637-3312 or email us at partnerservices@pacestaffing.com.


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