Recruiting For Team Fit: My 5 Step Process

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From talking with members to prepping the interviews, Chad MacRae reveals his process for understanding a team’s dynamic and finding candidates who’ll fit.

Hand attempting to place block into shape sorter.

Illustration: Christian De Pape

Finding potential employees who meet a checklist of must-have qualifications and experience is relatively easy – easy compared with the mysterious task of uncovering a candidate’s personality and assessing if they’re a culture match. But it can be done. How do you find candidates who match the team they’ll need to work with?

Here’s my 5 step process:

1. Talk with the team

First off, you need to pick your hiring manager’s brain – that goes without saying. But you should also try to speak with someone who will be a peer to the new hire, someone who’s currently in the role, or someone who was in the role recently. If the role is at a managerial level, make sure to also speak with someone who will be a direct report.


  • Why are we making this hire? Is it a new role, or a replacement?
  • If it’s a replacement, what went wrong? What should change with the next hire?
  • How should this new hire collaborate with you?
  • What does collaboration mean to you? What does it look like?

2. Sit with the team

Go and sit with the team you’re recruiting for. That’s right – leave your talent team behind for an excursion out into the wilds of your company. Listen to the team interact. Watch them as they do their thing. Learn about how they work. Find out what they’re working on.

There’s tremendous benefit to doing this:

Instead of only being able to share a high-level, uninformed overview to candidates, you’ll have detailed tidbits to share and use to get them excited about the role, the work, and the team.

You can skip the hiring manager’s phone screen and bring the candidate right for an onsite interview, speeding up the recruiting process. This has often been my experience – because by sitting in with them, hiring managers grow to trust you. You become so much better positioned to give advice make recommendations if you’re out in the field, instead of trying to run the show from some far off HR or recruiting cloister.

3. Deep-screen the candidates

You have first-hand experience and a deep understanding of the team. Now you need to learn about the candidates.

In your phone screens, ask:

  • What kind of culture do you thrive in?
  • What leadership style do you like working under?
  • (If it’s a managerial-level role) What is your leadership style?
  • What does collaboration look like to you?

“Go and sit with the team you’re recruiting for. That’s right – leave your talent team behind …”

4. Prepare managers for the on-site interview

First, share the candidates’ screening interview answers with the hiring managers. This gives them good talking points for when they speak with the candidate. Even if the candidate was full of hot air – what they say about themselves might not be the reality – it’s still a starting point for that initial conversation with the hiring manager.

Now, the next part is key.

Prepare your managers – and anyone involved in the interview process – for the on-site interviews:

If the candidate will go through separate interviews with several managers, make sure the managers plan their questions together. That way, they won’t be nearly as likely to ask redundant questions. Nothing is worse for the candidate experience than interview after interview, being asked the same questions over and over!

There is one question every interviewer should ask, though – right at the end: “What didn’t I ask you?

5. Facilitate the decision-making

After the on-site interview, hold a debrief meeting with everyone who spoke with the candidates. You might catch details together in group discussion that might otherwise be missed by individual interviewers. A group meeting also makes all panelists feel involved in the decision-making process.

While everyone should feel involved, not everyone needs to buy into the chosen candidate. Identify, even quietly, two or three key decision-makers who hold the tie-breaking votes. Decide who these are based on people in the organization you most want the new hire to emulate, or people who have been in the organization the longest.

Decision made? Excellent. You’re ready to offer to a candidate – a candidate very likely to fit in with his or her new team.

Recruiting for fit means going deep

Spend time with the team you’re recruiting for. Get to know them, and you’ll have no problem understanding what ‘fit’ means for them.

The process I’ve just outlined really speaks to what I love about Recruiting Social’s on-demand recruiting services. Unlike more traditional recruitment outsourcing, where the recruiter working on your roles would be scrambling to fill different roles for different companies – all from a remote office somewhere – your on-demand recruiter gets to go really deep and serve one company, and one team, extremely well – yours. It even sometimes means they do sit at your offices, learning what the team needs in a new member to move forward, and helping them make that happen. No resume-pushing, no time-wasting – just right-fit recruiting.

When you go deep, the candidates you’ll find are simply unparalleled in quality and fit.

Learn about Recruiting Social’s on-demand recruiting services.

Chad MacRae, founder of Recruiting Social
About the author

Chad MacRae is the founder Recruiting Social. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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