Brixey & Meyer Blog

    Willing, Able, Fit: Hiring With Purpose

    Posted by Steve Black on Jan 23, 2020 9:33:55 AM

    A People Approach to Hiring_ Willing, Able, Fit (1)

    “If you could be any animal, what would it be?”

    The candidate looked perplexed. I tried not to laugh. I do not recall if the candidate said a type of fish, fowl, predator, or prey. I do remember my team-member asking the question, “If you could be any animal, what would it be?” After the interview, I asked my team-member why they asked that question. They had no explanation other than they were curious. What in the world!?!?! Curious? Now, if determining the type of animal a person wants to be reveals a deep job-related truth, great. However, in this situation, the lack of intentionality was evident. Worse, the team-member admitted that she asked the question because her supervisor asked it in a previous interview. She had no idea why her supervisor asked it, but she dare not challenge her supervisor, even though she knew it added little value to the interview process. 

    Gallons of ink and terabytes of data have been spilled trying to uncover the secret sauce to hiring the perfect candidate. I have seen everything from the “magic question” to the “Magic Eight ball” (I’m not kidding about the Magic Eight Ball). I will let you in on a secret…there is no 100% guarantee in hiring a perfect employee every time. However, organizations MUST build an intentional approach to hiring great people. I will go as far to say that hiring great people must (not should) be a top priority for EVERY organization. Minimizing this risk sets an organization for sustainable success. Tripping up in the hiring process is a top reason why many organizations fail to be best in class. Poor hiring leads to lackluster and toxic cultures, which experience high turnover and lower productivity. Guess what? This attracts mediocre talent.

    After conducting hundreds of interviews and hearing thousands of questions answered, I see three domains all organizations MUST explore to minimize the risks of poor hiring decisions. Exceptional employees score high in three domains. They are WILLING and ABLE to do the job, and they are a cultural and team FIT. When a candidate demonstrates that they are willing to do the job, able to do the job, and a fit with the organization/team, great things happen! Here is a brief overview of what it means to be “Willing, Able and Fit.”


    > Definition—A strong desire and excitement to do the job.
    > Example—An accountant, who loves doing accounting work and is energized by creating accurate financial statements and / or tax returns.
    > Dangers of Ignoring this Domain:

    • Hiring a person, who has little passion for the work, which will ultimately result in burnout.
    • Hiring a person, who is not driven to “go the extra mile” for the sake of satisfying intrinsic motivations.
    • Hiring a person, who does not spend extra / free time learning and growing related to the job they do.
    • Hiring a person, who does not look for innovations and / or creative ways to do the work more efficiently and effectively. 


    > Definition—A mastery to do the job (i.e.—has the “technical chops” to do the work) and / or the ability to learn how to do the work.

    > Example—A baseball pitcher, who knows how to throw strikes and get batters out.

    > Dangers of Ignoring this Domain:

    • Hiring a person, who is nice, but at the end of the day, cannot produce a quality work product.
    • Hiring a person, who does not have the ability to learn how to do the job.
    • Hiring a person, who causes other team-members to work harder in order to “pick up the slack” of the poor work product.


    > Definition—An alignment with the core ideology (mission, vision, values) of an organization and a personality fit with the assigned team-members.

    > Example—A sales person, who believes in the vision and mission, core values, and product of his / her employer. Such alignment creates “buy-in” and taps into key intrinsic motivations.

    > Dangers of Ignoring this Domain:

    • Hiring a person, who does not strive to meet the same ends as other team-members thus creating friction and conflict.
    • Hiring a person, who will eventually leave due to a lack of connectedness with the very essence of the organization.

    It is important to note that just because a person does not pass an organization’s screening of Willing-Able-Fit does NOT mean they are a poor worker or bad person. All it means is that they are not the best candidate for a given role. Most people will flourish somewhere if they love what they do, know how to do the work, and believe in the same core ideology as the organization. 

    Go ahead and ask crazy interview questions if it reveals a candidate’s Willingness, Ability, and Fit for the position at hand. If determining the type of animal gets you to this place, more power to you!  


    Check out other blogs by Steve Black: 

    Employment Practices That Create Workplace Distractions (Part 1 of 4)

    Cookies, Staplers, and Intentional Design: On-boarding Done Right (Part 1 of 3)

    Micro-Interactions: Small Actions With Huge Results

    Topics: Takeaways, culture, onboarding, hiring, Growing, Human Resources, Growth, workplace productivity, Success, Management

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