The Right Fit
Mark Schnurman Jan. 6, 2014, 7 a.m.
“Fit,” or how a person meshes with the fabric of an organization and job, is perhaps the most important factor in a broker’s success. I am responsible for hiring brokers at Eastern Consolidated. I review hundreds of resumes and conduct about 40 interviews a month with Ivy League grads, MBAs, lawyers and successful entrepreneurs. Although the candidates have strong pedigrees, I typically only extend one, perhaps two, offers a month. In November, I received 229 resumes, conducted 31 face-to-face interviews and extended two offers.
Eastern is incredibly selective in its hiring and while a lot of the candidates are capable of performing the job, few fit perfectly into our culture. We seek entrepreneurial, driven individuals who are capable of collaboration who also possess executive presence. Our razor sharpness in hiring for “fit” provides me with some insight to share.
Here are some tips to finding a culture that allows you to thrive:
Prior to interviewing it is important to know yourself and your preferences. How professional do you want an organization to be? How much training and support do you want? How structured would you like the environment to be?
Next, observe how people communicate and interact. Are they formal or informal? Direct or indirect? Big picture or detail oriented? Does the organization communicate in a way that you like? If not, take yourself out of the interview process.
For example, I am informal in demeanor and communications style, employing humor as a way of defusing stress and reducing pressure. When I worked on Wall Street, the culture was serious, staid and formal. I liked the people, but the culture was very different from my natural style and it was not an optimal fit.
Listen to cues
Words like team, cooperation and collaboration evoke a certain environment; individual performer, competition and eat what you kill, another. Neither environment is better or worse but each requires a very different style and personality.
Recently, I met a candidate who spent several hours meeting people within my organization. At the end of his interviews, I asked him how he felt about the opportunity and firm.
He said that during an extensive job search he interviewed with over 10 real estate firms and found that almost all used common messaging but that Eastern’s was different. His awareness of the covert messages that organizations send enabled him to identify the opportunity that best fit his goals and personality.
Good questions get good answers. Ask the following questions to gain insight: “What type of person succeeds and what type does not succeed here?” “What are the traits of top performers here?” “How do brokers interact?”
If your antennae are up during the interview process and you pay attention to the direct and indirect signals in the interview process you will identify a lot of cues. Then you simply need to make an assessment and a decision based on self-knowledge and knowledge of the organization.
As a rule, the more you need to change or adjust to a firm the harder it is to be happy. This is because changing core and closely held traits, styles and values is difficult. Sure, you can adapt for periods of time, but in the long haul it is probably better to find a more comfortable fit and avoid unnecessary stress. About 50 percent of new hires question their job choice within 6 months.
Resist the urge to take an offer just because you receive it. Go with your gut. If your gut says no, don’t take the job. There is a brokerage out there for you. You just need to find it!