What Makes a Candidate a Good Fit?

Business people shaking hands in office before an interview
••• Chris Ryan / Getty Images

Employers are always looking for candidates who are a good match for the job, the department, and the organization. Even if you seem ideal on paper, during an interview the employer will likely assess whether you're a "good fit" for the company.

Despite having terrific credentials, if it doesn’t appear that you’ll fit in with management, the other employees, or with the company culture, the job may not be right for you, and you may not get a job offer.

Matching Your Resume

What makes you a good fit for an employer? There are many different dimensions impacting how well you will fit in if hired. Perhaps the most obvious aspect of fit is whether your resume lines up with the qualifications of the job. Interviewers will want to know if you have the right interests, personality, skills, knowledge, education, and experiences to excel in your target position. 

Analyze the requirements for the job and provide examples of how you have exhibited key qualifications in your past academic, co-curricular, volunteer, and work activities. You need to show the employer why you would be a good fit for the job. 

Company Culture

Of course, a good match goes beyond your resume. Employers will look for individuals who will fit in well with their corporate culture on both a personal and professional level. For example, if a company values innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship, then the interviewer will want to see evidence of a pattern of those qualities in your work history and in your answers to interview questions.

Make sure you research the company culture as you prepare for an interview so that you can present your strengths within the context of the organization's culture. Be prepared, as well, to answer job interview questions about company culture. You should also ask questions about the company culture—after all, job fit goes both ways.

Pay attention to the office atmosphere to get a sense of how you'll fit into the overall company culture, too. What's the dress code? Does everyone seem casual and relaxed, or formal and serious? Is the work environment open or is everyone in their own office? These signs can tell you a lot about a company's culture.

Management and Leadership Style

Another element of fit is how you might respond to your prospective manager's supervisory or leadership style. For example, if a recruiter knows that a particular manager is hands-off with staff, then they might look for a self-motivated candidate, rather than one who thrives on feedback or direction. Similarly, if a supervisor is known to have an autocratic style, then an interviewer might hesitate to hire a candidate who prefers to work independently. 

You will rarely gain insight into your prospective manager's style prior to your interview day, but scrutinize their approach as you interact during the interview process. Learn as much about their style as possible to understand how well your way of working will fit.

If you have the chance, ask other individuals who report to your possible supervisor to describe their management approach. This might give you a more realistic view of a boss's leadership style than the boss's own answers will.

Is the Job a Good Fit for You?

An interview is a chance for both parties to decide if they would work well together. Think of it as your chance to get to know each other and learn as much about each other as possible. If it doesn’t appear to be a good fit, take the time to decide what kind of job would make the perfect match.