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How important is team fit?

I saw this article recently that discussed the extreme personality tests being undertaken by an American firm in order to ‘weed out’ unsuitable candidates.  While their tactics are perhaps taking it a little too far, the reason behind it, is just.  When recruiting it is important to take into account your organisation’s culture and assess how well the candidate would fit into the team/department.

This isn’t a popularity contest and isn’t just about whether you as an interviewer like them or not. It’s thinking about what values your organisations holds, what personalities there are within the team, how they work together.

If you have a very quiet introverted team you may want to hire someone similar, or you may feel there is the need for someone with a more extraverted personality to bring some energy and balance to the team.  But you need to look at the team, and decide not only what skills and experience the new recruit needs to bring, but what other role do they have to fill.  Are you missing an organised mind, a detail focused individual, a real team player, a creative thinker, a leader or team motivator?  While these are all skills, they are inherently linked to people’s personalities.  If you’re looking for a real team player, someone who puts the ‘we before I’, then a highly goal orientated extravert, might not be the best team fit.

I know when recruiting into a team previously I was conscious that I already had a very creative, but highly disorganised team member, that did a fantastic job, but not always in the correct time frame or in a logical manner.  So to compliment that I needed to hire an organised, task orientated individual. Someone I could rely on to get things done, quickly.  Allowing the more creative team member to do what they did best…  On paper, their job descriptions were the same, the skills needed to do the role were the same but it was their personalities and how they approached their daily tasks that made them different, and enabled them (and me) to complement each other and work well as a team.

But how can you assess fit?

  1. Work out what you need – firstly think about the team you’re recruiting for. What soft skills are missing and what would complement existing team members.
  2. Ask lots of questions – once you know what you’re looking for, make sure you have questions that allow you to explore this further. If like me, you needed an organised person, I made sure I had a number of detailed questions to assess their approach to tasks and projects.
  3. Test – there are a number of personality tests out there that you can chose from that will help assess potential recruits. Or you can run more formal candidate assessments and test how they perform in ‘real-life’ situations. This can be a simple, map out a project plan, to a more involved full day process. Depending on your needs and the seniority of the role in question.
  4. Meet the team – when at final interview stage I always made the effort to give recruits a tour of the office and a quick intro, to what would be, their immediate team. I did this for three reasons, firstly to give them first-hand experience of where they would be working and who with.  Remember interviewing is as much about selling your company to the candidate as it is the other way round.  This gives them the opportunity to assess for themselves whether they feel they have the right fit. Secondly, it gave the rest of the team a chance to meet them (even if fleetingly) and to give me their thoughts and opinions and lastly it allowed me to see how everyone interacted.  If a tour of the office isn’t possible, perhaps a team member could attend an interview, either in a formal capacity or just join at the beginning or end for a quick chat.


When recruiting it is obviously important to make sure you hire someone that can do the job, that has the right mixture of skills and experience.  But I’ve always been of the opinion that technical skills can be taught/developed a lot easier than you can change a person’s personality.

For more information on how we can help with any recruitment needs, including our candidate assessment module please get in touch.  Or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter (@chiumentoRS) to read our latest musings on the world of work.

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