Interviewing 101: Listen for Organizational Fit

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'Let me start by explaining our company, our business need in hiring this position and what we would expect you to accomplish. Then you can tell me how closely you fit our criteria.'

December 01, 2001
Bill Carpitella

"Let me start by explaining our company, our business need in hiring this position and what we would expect you to accomplish. Then you can tell me how closely you fit our criteria."

Unfortunately, this is how most hiring managers in our industry open their job interviews. But giving a prospective employee all the job and business requirements - before you validate his or her fit and skill - guarantees that you will hear only what you want to hear. It’s also risky. If hired, the person is less likely to become an A-player in your organization.

It is part of a more common interviewing pitfall. We tend to talk more than we need to during the interview. Why? Because we’re not prepared. We are fidgety about potential dreaded silences. We want to look like we know a lot. I suggest talking 20% of the time and listening the rest.

Here is what you need to remember. An A-player construction technician is just as valuable in terms of achieving your vision as a company as an A-player division president. Experience shows that when you hire for fit, your customer satisfaction and referral rate will skyrocket.

As builders, we rightly devote enormous time to land acquisition, land development and technology purchases. These decisions require consensus with key managers, discussions of strategic linkages and return on investment. We do this because making a mistake could be harmful or even fatal to our business. Hiring is no different.

A hire who fits not only the skill requirements but also the culture, values and belief systems of the organization is typically three times more productive and two times less likely to turn over.

Don’t kid yourself. Regardless of position, interview as thoroughly as if you were hiring someone to manage every penny of your estate. And remember that you get only what you ask for.

Bill Carpitella is president and CEO of The Sharrow Group, a Rochester, N.Y.-based human resources firm.

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