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Interviewing for Fit
Interviews used to be predictable. If you prepared answers to some basic questions, you could come across as a qualified candidate. But these days employers aren't always looking for the best-qualified candidate. They're searching for the best fit.
"If we can find a good fit who will work with the other personalities in the company, getting the skills is easy." - Christina Doss, human resources manager, E*Trade Bank
Interviews used to be predictable. If you prepared answers to some basic questions in advance (What are your strengths and weaknesses? What responsibilities did you have at your last job?), you could come across as a qualified candidate. But these days employers aren't always looking for the best-qualified candidate. They're searching for the best fit.
According to DeAnne Rosenberg, author of A Manager's Guide to Hiring the Best Person for Every Job (John Wiley & Sons, 2000), the cost of turnover for a single mid-level employee (including initial recruitment, training, and then recruitment for a replacement employee) is more than one and a half times the employee's annual salary. In an effort to reduce turnover, hiring managers are searching for candidates with the right attitude, not the right resume. Christina Doss, human resources manager at E*Trade Bank, says, "If we can find a good fit who will work with the other personalities in the company, getting the skills is easy. We will just provide them with the training."
The search is on
In general, Rosenberg says, the right attitude includes these five attributes:
"Companies are trying to fill talent profiles, which are far more than a job description, and far more than a list of [skills] requirements," says Barbara Mitchell, president of the Employment Management Association. To create a talent profile, hiring managers interview current team members to determine what qualities help them to do a good job. "You really delve into what someone would need to know to be a success in this position," she says.
The efforts of companies to refine their interviewing processes seem to be paying off. Doss says E*Trade Bank's turnover rate is less than 15 percent, which is low for a call center, where most of the company's employees work. Southwest reports a turnover rate of 9.5 percent, low for the airline industry, according to Grubbs-West.
Job seekers who thought they could prepare for interviews by researching company web sites or reading "insider" guides are finding that's just not enough anymore. Sometimes, preparing for interviews is simply impossible. While interviewing for a job is becoming more of a challenge, it also should be more rewarding. If a company thinks you're the right fit, you've scored a job in which you'll be very comfortable. And if you're not the chosen candidate, you should be relieved that you avoided the wrong job, and comforted that the right fit is still out there looking for you.
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