It’s become pretty standard business advice these days to suggest you need to “hire for fit” rather than experience or job skills.

Hire for fit

Torley via Flickr

Most interpret fit to imply fit with the culture of the organization. While I agree that your recruitment should aim to attract people that share your mission, vision and values, it’s also essential to consider how they might fit in the new reality of business.

There is a specific skill set required these days in order to be successful in the world of marketing and business owners need to start finding ways to uncover these skills in the people they recruit.

Most of these skills aren’t taught directly and come more naturally to some than others, but an employee that lacks them, or worse, questions them, is going to contribute significantly less to your organization in the coming years.

While I can define the new skills, you still have to find the ways to unearth them and bring them out in your culture and your employees.

The good news is that these are the same qualities it takes for any business to compete and if you can make these qualities the central theme of your hiring, they will carry over into the central theme of your business in general.

Collaboration bias – Today’s business teams are as fluid as ever. They move from project to project, plug and play with virtual members and draw from around the globe. Work today is basically collaboration on all fronts. If any past experience matters it’s experience that demonstrates ease with contribution and collaboration. Some people thrive on this way of work, some people don’t.

Design character – Creative people just see the world a little differently than most and, when balanced with stated business objectives, this can be a powerful tool. Look for people that demonstrate a feel for design, even though that may not be the primary or even secondary function. Creativity in design easily blends over into creativity in ideas, problem solving and collaboration.

Social knack – Recent college grads take note, social business is not Facebook. Social knack isn’t a tech platform at all. It is a skill that engages your ability to have a great conversation, to know how to find what makes people tick, to present ideas to a group and to innately look for ways to help others get what they want. If your staff possesses these qualities naturally, they can make whatever the tool of the week is pay.

Tech curious – Technology is an incredible game leveling tool in the hands of smart business owners. Blending high tech capabilities with high touch customer experience is the killer play in todays plugged in world. Employees that are curious about new technology and gadgets as a means to creates a better, deeper and richer customer experience are a must. Hire self-proclaimed nerds and let them fuse the technology with proven processes.

Bundle vision – This is quite likely the hardest quality to identify, (certainly in a 30 minute interview) but it may be one of the most important. Business, technology, tools and trends evolve so quickly these days that every business owner and every staff member needs the ability to appreciate how seemingly disparate parts might come together to make something remarkable. This is perhaps the combination of all of the traits described above and when you find this trait and hone it, it will become one of the most valuable assets your business develops.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • iMing

    I qualify, yay.

  • I think you’re absolutely right.  As a matter of fact, I heard Tony Hsieh yesterday on the Cobert talking about just that — the notion that fit is more important than skills and that they look for employees who exemplify their corporate ethos.

    I like the list of skills you’ve developed.  I would add analytical to this.  Whether that’s math and metrics or just logical thought, I think everyone in the organization needs to have this ability.  

    I also think you also should add an innovation bias.  Or maybe that fits into creative, but employees should never be happy with the status quo and always looking for new opportunities.

    Angela Hausman, PhD

    • Angela I think we do have to hire people on other factors these days. You have to get people that have that talent and ready to get things done.

      “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

      • Maryann Hrichak

        Anyone who’s NOT willing and ready to get things done these days should not be hired!

    • We could add lots to the list, but I think the main idea gets across in this short list. If you want to really sum it up, for me, it’s curiosity – that’s one quality you can’t teach that allows people to ask why we do things and how we can do things better, rather than just doing things.

    • Maryann Hrichak

      You’re completely right on Angela and I couldn’t agree with you  more.  Analytical and innovation skills are essential these days, to keep us all flexible, creative and serving customer needs. 

  • Although fit is one of the important qualities needed, the ability to do the job, and do it better than anybody else on the horizon, needs to be emphasized as well. If somebody can’t perform up to expectations that all the fit, style, personality and other qualities referenced in this excellent article go out the window.

  • Jay

    My 50cents, you don’t always have to do it. As a small business owner, u could always use sites on the web, if you’re 60+ you should be updated on marketplaces and tech crunch! The important ones for example are places like and
    Please be wise!

  • Here is a similar story

    HSBC Holdings PLC said on Tuesday that it will continue to hire and
    invest in China, despite plans to cut tens of thousands of employee
    Europe’s biggest bank said on Monday it will eliminate 30,000
    jobs by the end of 2013, or about 10 percent of staff, to rein in salary
    costs, while hiring more people in emerging markets.

  • I worked as an assistant in an office of recruiters for a little while and there were lots of discussions about this kind of stuff, but when it came down to sending candidates to interviews the old ways of doing things triumphed every time. Everyone liked to talk about being innovative and hiring creative, thoughtful people but it seemed that hiring managers really wanted the “right” degree and the “right” experience and even the “right” appearance. Of course, those hiring managers tended to work big companies (that could afford to hire recruiters) so maybe hiring practices are improving from small companies up. 

  • such a nice article for interviewee . but first we will have to know that who are we ? whatever good design character or social guy who can communicate with people.
    than we can explain our true nature or yes i can enjoy this work .for example  if we will cover with lie and say i am good tech curios and even we don’t know about any technology so we can stuck in our own answer . so best practice is who are u and simply present yourself .