Thursday, September 5, 2013

Who Gets Hired?


And who gets promoted?


Well, according to a new CareerBuilder survey, it doesn’t always, or only, depend on one’s education, experience and hard skills. But, we knew that, didn’t we?

The study polled over 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals. They asked if given two equally qualified candidates, what would make them more likely to choose one over the other?

Fit is important and that depends on your office culture. So, for 27% of the respondents, the one with the better sense of humor will more likely be selected. And community involvement would tip the scales for 26%. If the applicant is viewed as better dressed, 21% would select that person (I would have thought that would be a much larger percentage.)

A bit more surprising were some of the other responses. 13% would choose the more physically fit, and 8% would give preference to the candidate who’s more on top of current events and pop culture (tell me, how were those VMA awards?).

But, this assessment of fit (or personality and behavior) doesn’t end with the job offer. When deciding who to promote, other factors are often considered as well.

Most managers and HR pros cringe when confronted with someone who says "that’s not my job". That’s a pretty obvious bar, and 71% of the respondents confirm that feeling. Of course lousy attendance, lying at work or taking credit for someone else’s work will also torpedo your chances at climbing the corporate ladder.

A little less than accurate or honest on your expense account? Yeah, 55% say that’s a red flag. And leave the gossiping at the door, since 46% say if you’re the office gossip, your chances for promotion are pretty limited. Swearing at work doesn’t help you much, either (dang, I need to be more careful!)

And if all the other horror stories about romance in the office don’t work for you, 8% of managers said they wouldn’t promote someone who dated a co-worker.

What’s the good news? Let your manager know you want to be promoted! 33% responded that they’d be more likely to promote someone who has voiced their desire in the past. So, speak up!

"Fit" is really a hard concept to define or explain. It will differ depending on industry, profession, geographic region and the individual organization. We often know it when we see it, or don’t see it as the case may be. We can also tell if someone "gets it" or when they don’t.

Only you can determine what your culture is, and whether or not an applicant will fit in. However, there are a few things you can look at to help you figure this out. Ask yourself, and others in your organization:


  • How do we get our work done? Are we more independent or more collaborative?
  • How do we tend to communicate? Verbally or in written form? Do we wander down the hall, or do we use email?
  • What types of people tend to be successful here? Individual contributors or team players? People who are proactive or more responsive? Introverts or extroverts?
  • How do we make decisions? Group or is it more hierarchical?
  • What are our meetings like? Serious? Lighthearted? Tightly or loosely structured?
  • What happens when people don’t perform well?
  • Do we provide flexible work schedules or allow for telecommuting, or do we prefer people to work set hours?
  • Do we expect management (at any level) to be available or accessible after normal hours?
  • How do we dress? Business or business casual? Something else?
  • How do we have fun? Do we have fun?

Look at your organization’s mission, vision and values. Think about what characteristics go along with your core values. What is important?

Once you can better define your organization’s culture, you need to interview for fit. Asking behavioral based questions is the best way to determine fit. Some examples:

  • Describe for me the environment in which you feel most comfortable. How do you like to be rewarded or recognized?
  • Tell me about the most difficult person you have ever worked with or for and describe how you managed that relationship.
  • Tell me about a time when you were a member of a team and the team didn’t meet its goals.  What was your part and how did you contribute to the effort? What was the end result?
  • Describe how you went about learning and then fitting into the organization’s culture in your previous job.
  • What has been your greatest success or challenge in fitting in to an organization’s culture?
  • Describe for me a situation in which you were in a group that had "personality conflicts." How did you handle yourself?
  • How have you gone about resolving personality conflicts in past positions?

There is never a perfect formula for hiring, or promoting, the right person. But taking into consideration your culture and your values can help and will increase your chances.

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