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Hiring: Plan Ahead, Ideal Fit Takes Time

By Kristen Harris

“Never make a decision until you have to.” – Randy Pausch

As hiring managers and job candidates, we’re all looking for an Ideal Fit. Whatever term you use to describe it, we all want to find someone who is a good fit for our team, or a work opportunity that feels “just right”. If you’re not sure how to assess an Ideal Fit, check out our article Hiring: What’s an “Ideal Fit”?

Finding the Ideal Fit takes time. It’s not something you can rush through, yet we’re often pressured to make quick decisions. Hiring managers need to quickly assess whether a candidate is the right fit for their team and realize that candidate is probably talking to other companies too. When you find the right person, you feel pressured to make an offer before someone else does.

On the other side, with all of the options and opportunities, candidates are getting offered roles more quickly and feel pressured to accept. They may get multiple offers and need to make the right choice for themselves and their career.

Finding the Ideal Fit takes time, but with all the pressure to make a quick decision, we don’t have time. How to resolve this seemingly impossible conundrum? By putting in our time beforehand, so we’re prepared to make a quick decision when the clock is ticking.

Never make a decision until you have to, but be prepared to make a decision when you need to. When you’ve spent time getting clear on what the Ideal Fit is for you, then it’s much easier to make that quick decision when the pressure is on.

For hiring managers, it’s important to be very clear on what matters to you, your company, and your team. Identify the must-haves vs nice-to-haves for any role you’re trying to fill. What is required for success in this role? What skills, experience or background are necessary? What type of personality traits or soft skills are you looking for? What’s important to your company? What is your culture like? Make a list of everything you’re looking for, ranked from most important to least.

For individuals seeking a new role, project, or work opportunity, you need to know what matters the most to you (and what doesn’t). Are you looking for higher pay? More interesting projects? The opportunity to learn new skills or grow the breadth of your work? To work with a particular person or for a certain company? Is flexibility or a specific work schedule important to you? Stability and predictability, or new exciting challenges every day? What kind of culture do you thrive in? Write it all down, in order of priority.

A prioritized list of what matters the most gives you a base to compare against when making decisions. Let’s be honest, no person or job is completely, 100% perfect. There will always be compromises. You need to know what matters most, your deal-breakers vs nice-to-haves.

When you’re clear on what’s most important, making decisions becomes easier, even under pressure. Compare every candidate or opportunity to your list. How does the person or role measure up against your must-haves? If all those boxes are checked, then look at the nice-to-haves. Those probably won’t all be covered, so decide where you’re willing to compromise. You’ve already set your priorities; you decided that the items lower on your list are less important to you. Now, take a breath, listen to your gut, and make your decision.

Finding the Ideal Fit takes time that we don’t have in the heat of the moment. By spending time beforehand to identify what’s most important, we can quickly make a better decision when the pressure is on.