Showing You Are a “Good Fit”

By Joe Stein

In today’s litigious world, it is very difficult to receive any type of specific feedback from a Hiring Manager explaining why you were not offered the position you were seeking. Rarely does a company not have a policy that prohibits a Manager from providing feedback to those being declined for a position. The most that a Job Seeker will probably give you is that they found someone who matched the position requirements even better than you did, or perhaps you will hear the dreaded statement that another person was a “better fit”.
What does a “better fit” even mean, and what can a Job Seeker do to combat this conclusion? It is really hard to explain or create a strategy around “fit”, because it can mean so many different things depending on the Hiring Manager.  The concept of a good “fit” goes beyond your qualifications or credentials, and enters the realm of more intangible requirements. This does not mean, however, that all is lost. There are some things that you can do during the recruiting process to perhaps show that you will be the best “fit”.
·         Match-Up Your Cover Letter and Resume With the Position – All job openings are unique in some way, so why send generic documents that you universally use for everything? Be sure to examine the posting closely and create finished versions that incorporate requirements or language found in the listing. This will make it easier for the reviewer to connect your qualifications to the position, and increase the likelihood of an interview. By using some of the terms found in the posting, you can create the feeling that you understand the prospective employer and speak the same language.
·         Show How You Will Add Value – What you want to do is create a need by the Hiring Manager after reviewing your documents, or from talking to you. The idea being that the Hiring Manager does not just need to fill the position, but believes he or she must do it with you. You can do this by providing specific examples of value you have added to past organizations. Don’t just list or explain what you did task-wise, but outline and provide examples of what you did that stood out. Describe to the Hiring Manager how you will not just fill a slot, but solve a problem (or problems).
·         Be a Strong Listener – During your conversations with the Recruiter and Hiring Manager, you will probably hear several clues regarding what is being sought after for the position. This entails not just the qualifications, but also the personal traits they are seeking. You can then incorporate this information into your answers. This will require you to not only listen but to be able to adapt quickly during the course of the conversation. Doing so can pay real dividends.
·         Be Respectful and Polite – Often times, “fit” means they can see someone else meshing with the team better than they believe that you would. You won’t have the opportunity to show how well you work with others during the interview process, but you can display the right attitude while being recruited. This category includes a number of little things, such as thanking the person at the front desk, being on-time for your appointments, and expressing your appreciation for the time.
·         Understand the Culture – This is an area where your research can pay off. What type of company culture are they known for?   What is the leadership style? If the organization if fairly casual and is known for a more traditional and professional atmosphere, then not only your dress but your demeanor should match this environment. If the culture is more collaborative with perhaps an open office type of environment, then address your desire to work this way (and if you have done it before, express this fact). If the prospective employer is well-known for their volunteer efforts, then express how important this is to you and provide examples of how you give back. The entire idea is to show how you will “fit” right in with the team.
Showing you are a good “fit” does not mean that you should try to be a person you are not. If you try to be someone different in the interview in order to be hired, how satisfied will you be in the position once you start (and how likely will the company be happy with you)? It is difficult being someone you are not, especially when you consider the hours you put in at work.
The concept of “fit” can be very confusing to a Job Seeker and for very good reason. Since it is not something that is tangible (such as a certification or a degree), it is much more difficult to understand and accept. As noted above, however, you don’t have to feel helpless on this topic. By following some common sense job seeking tips, you can show to the Hiring Manager that you would be a good “fit” for the role.
As always, best of luck in your job search!