You must understand fit to get the (right) leadership job

THE first post in this series outlined fundamental truths about your place in the job-seeking/hiring process. The second post outlines basic strategy for getting the (right) leadership job, along with useful ways of thinking about the hiring process.

This post provides critical concepts that will help you understand  more about the mindset of hiring teams and leaders who get the (right) job.

This information will help you make sense of the suggestions that follow in subsequent posts.


The following (criminally brief) Q & A summarizes tons of research in too short of space to do it much justice:

Q: Why is fit so important? is it BS? and, why should I care about fit just as much as the organization?

A: Human nature and science.

Human Nature:

  • Fit seeking describes one of, if not the most important drivers of your behavior.
  • You naturally seek fit in all aspects of your life.
  • Your choice of mate/partner, friends, activities/hobbies, college major, job, etc., say a lot about who you are, and reflect your need to find or create an environment that affirms who you are, or who you are becoming. You know, an environment in which you fit.
  • In a very real way, environments “choose” you as much as you choose them; as a simple example, did you pair off with any mate/partner you chose, or one who also chose you?


Among other important things, extensive research on fit in work situations is pretty clear that:

  • You will perform jobs better that your skills and capabilities fit with the requirements of the job.
  • You will build better and more productive relationships when your personality, values, and experiences, etc. fit with others in the organization.
  • You will be more successful (and so too the team and organization) in organizations that your personality, values, and experiences, etc. fit with the company’s culture.

As a result, people who fit the job, team, and culture tend to perform better, stay with the organization longer, and go “above and beyond” more so than those who do not fit.


When you hire people, you want them to perform, stay, and go above and beyond, right? If so, you’re seeking fit–just like the people that might hire you.


Consider jobs you’ve had in the past. You no doubt have had a job when you quickly developed that instinctive sense that you simply didn’t fit in.

  • How did that feel?
  • How long did you stay?
  • Did you dread having to deal with just one person, or most of them?
  • Did you dread the work?
  • Did you complain about the ridiculous way things were run?
  • Did you think about the pay and benefits to keep yourself from quitting?

Believe it or not, there were plenty of people in that organization who loved all that stuff, or at least the misery of mis-fit was within their “zone of tolerance,” and perhaps they perceive staying as less risky than seeking a new job. (Economists call this satisficing.)

Well-trained and experienced hiring managers and HR professionals know all of this, and have tools and techniques specifically designed to filter out those who do not fit and pass through to next steps those who do. As with any filter, the tools work quite well, but are not perfect.

And that imperfection is where the danger comes in for you.

If you truly are the best fit you must approach the hiring process as who you truly are–rather who you think they want you to be–to give the fit-seeking process a cha chance to work for you and the organization.

The best leaders get the (right) job because they have a very strong sense of self and can convey that effortlessly during an interview.


What could be more natural than . . . acting naturally?


The more at ease you are with yourself, the more effectively you will convey to the hiring team who you are. If you’re acting naturally in the presence of the hiring team in the right organization, they are much more likely to recognize fit.

The best leaders know intuitively–or have figured out explicitly–how to identify those roles and organizations that they will most likely fit, and so they target them in their search and put the most effort into communicating fit through their resume, cover letter, and all interactions with the organization and hiring team.

They then go about doing what comes naturally and prepare like a pro. They also evaluate the organization just as much as they are under evaluation, because they want to ensure there’s a fit from their perspective as well.

Doing what the best leaders do is your best chance for the fit filter that is the hiring process to let you continue to pass through, rather than be filtered out.

Thus, the mindset of the best leaders who get the (right) job requires you to go after the right job in the right organization and most effectively convey who you are in the hiring process by being exactly who you are.

The next post provides you with guidelines/steps to identify your unique leadership factors which is the first half of fit equation.



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