What "the Best Fit" Means in Employment-Speak

"You weren't the best fit for the position." Disappointed job seekers who ask employers why they weren't hired often hear those words. Best fit? What exactly does fit mean in employment? That question seems to be on more lips than ever as some seemingly well-qualified people don’t receive job offers while others who are less qualified are welcomed aboard.

In the workplace, fit essentially refers to how an individual fits into a company’s culture. Company culture is expressed in the values and behaviors of the work group. The culture typically flows from company or department chieftains: If the boss wears long sleeves, you wear long sleeves; if the boss shows a sense of humor, you show a sense of humor; if the boss works until 6 o’clock, you work until 6 o’clock.

When you’re given the not-the-best-fit-for-the-job rejection, the reason is

  • A convenient short and legally safe answer

  • A cover story

  • The hiring decision makers perceive that you won’t fit in well with the work group.

When the reason really is the fit issue, decision makers may think you can do the job but that you won’t do it the way they want and, furthermore, they just don’t feel at ease with you.

Rather than lose sleep over a fit-based turn-down, move on. Do better pre-interview research. At least you won’t waste time on companies well-known for being a fortress of round holes when you’re a square peg.

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