“Fit” To Be Tied

John Whitaker John Whitaker

Fit” is a term that’s giving me (for lack of a better term) fits.

Anyone involved with the hiring cycle, whether it be staffing, the hiring manager, or even the candidate, has certainly heard the term “job fit.” Hell, I use it all the time.

And it’s bugging me.

It hit me today, reading through the August issue of Rolling StoneHidden among some meaty articles on Willie Nelson and Lizzy Caplan (meow), Elisabeth Garber-Paul includes a piece on RoomSync, a Facebook app that helps incoming students find a compatible roommate for the coming school year. It sure sounds good, doesn’t it? Initial studies at one university found a significant reduction in the number of “roommate change” requests after using the app, so there must be something to it.

But it’s bugging me more now.

I understand the benefit of having a compatible roommate in college, just as I understand the benefit of having a group of co-workers with whom I connect—I just don’t think you’re doing me (or my kids) any favors by allowing them to funnel the pool to a more suitable roommate/co-worker. In my own experience, I was part of the pot-luck crowd. It was terrifying, it was awkward, and the thought of living with someone I had never met had me somewhat puckered. It was also the best thing that could have happened to me. For the next 2 years, I lived with my new roommate, Robert… different cultures, different backgrounds, different interests—“Berto” also became one of my closest friends. But that’s not necessarily the point—Berto and I worked to forge a friendship, but if it had gone South, it’s still LIFE. You don’t always get to work (or live) in perfect harmony; otherwise why would guys ever get married? (bada-bing)

The point is, unlike a great deal of people with an incoming “anchor” roommate to help them assimilate, I was thrown into the mix and left to (gulp) make friends all by my lonesome.

So back to the hiring process. “Job fit” is a wonderful concept… it’s also quite the cottage industry, as tests, assessments, interview styles, and surveys are all marketed to improve the probability of finding the perfect “fit” for the company. Hiring for fit, if dojob-fit-org-chartne wrong, can lead to an incestuous company culture and/or group think. If you’re using tools, make sure you’re using them as data points, not conclusions.

There’s no doubt that a company and an employee benefit when the discretionary effort, engagement, and job satisfaction are increased, so this isn’t an argument against job fit, but it is a reminder of the benefits of an odd mix of people that learn to adapt, collaborate and succeed with each other in spite of (or because of?) their inherent differences.

What does “fit” mean to you, #FOTNation? Tweet with your experiences, opinions, or general thoughts to @HR_Hardball, #FitToBeTied.