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How to Find Team Fit

by Jeff Gau on December 8, 2016

I like to interview job candidates for certain positions within our company. I am pretty focused on one particular criteria: team fit. 

Team fit is one of the most important aspects of success for new hires in any company. You can teach employees a variety of skills, but team fit just isn’t one of them. They have to have it.

If you "fit" the team, we’ll do whatever it takes to help you succeed. If you don’t fit, failure is almost certain. So how do you determine “team fit” during the interview process?

It starts with an informal conversation. I lead the discussion but let them do most of the talking. I am intently listening and also reading body language to assess what isn’t being said.

The key indicators for team fit at Marco are people who demonstrate having strong relationships with others indicating that they would play well on a team. To be part of a successful growth company, they also have to be okay with scorekeeping and metric-driven performance.

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My role in the interview process isn’t to find out what the person’s job skills are. Others involved in the process have more knowledge to determine that. I am really focused on getting the best personal profile of the individual and how they may or may not fit in at Marco.

Here are a few guiding questions that help me gain the insight I need:

  • Tell me about yourself.
    This is my favorite question that can produce a wealth of information, but you have to pay attention. I genuinely seek to get to know the person. I encourage them to start back in high school and bring me to the present so I can learn about activities they were involved in, any early leadership roles and get a feel for their background. Because this leads to so many other good questioning opportunities, it often takes half of the interview.

  • Tell me about some of your strongest relationships.
    This gives the candidate an opportunity to talk about their longest relationships with family, friends or co-workers. Without asking any specific questions, they’ll share a lot of information about how they might interact with our team. This again creates an opportunity to assess their ability to get along with people in their closest circles of influence.
  • What do you do for fun?
    This gives me a feel for their interests and can provide an opportunity to learn more about how they build trusted relationships in their circle of friends. I know that new team members need to build a circle of influence within our organization. If they do it naturally outside the organization, it should be easier when they come to work for us.

  • Who would you consider to be a high performer?
    We seek to hire achievers. They fit best in our high-performing culture. So, I ask specifically about their experience and comfort with elements of a high performing culture. Not everyone likes to keep score. By giving me an example of a high performer, I get a sense of what good looks like to them.

Team fit is not a cut and dry concept for an organization. It is not limited to the corporate culture. When interviewing, I am also evaluating how the individuals would fit into the specific team they’d be joining. Teams have dynamics, as do individuals. Aligning these is an important part of team fit.

It typically doesn’t take long to determine if someone fits the team. The questions may feel simple. They are. It’s the answers that provide the value.

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Topics: Recruiting, Hiring, Teamwork

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