Once upon a time there was a nursing home. This nursing home was thrilled to hire a new business office manager, pleased that he had an MBA and years of experience with billing and collection. Sadly, the nursing home had to fire him less than six months after he was hired. He seemed so qualified for the job. What went wrong?

This is a true story. The administrator was pleased to get someone so well credentialed educationally and experientially. The thing is, the job was in a nursing home. The mission of this nursing home was to care for the frail elderly residents of the home. In the interviewing and on-boarding process no one asked him how he felt about working with the elderly. Shortly after the business office manager was hired, a new nursing home administrator was hired. In his effort to get to know the nursing home residents, the administrator visited each of them in their rooms and learned that none of them had met the business office manager. When they had a billing problem or a problem with their personal needs account, the business manager would send his clerk to meet with them. They felt disrespected and in many cases, felt their issue was beyond the ability of the clerk. This was not a matter of delegation of responsibility. Rather, it was an abdication of responsibility. 

When the administrator confronted the business manager, the business manager admitted to being uncomfortable with the elderly residents. The administrator told him he was expected to deal directly with our elderly residents, yet he continued to inappropriately have his clerk handle most of those contacts. Oddly enough when the new nursing home administrator was hired, one of the first questions he was asked was how he felt about working with the elderly. I wondered why no one asked this of the business manager. 

This story is an example of good job fit but poor mission fit. The business manager was well prepared for the generic job description but ill-equipped to embrace the home’s mission and values in working with and caring for the elderly. 

A successful hire is one in which there is both mission fit and job fit in the new hire. It is not sufficient to hire for mission fit alone or job fit alone. Someone may have a strong sense of commitment to your mission and values but not have all the credentials, experience and training to do the job. Similarly, someone might have great education and training but are not comfortable with your mission and values, maybe even disagrees with it/them. If there is one fit without the other, it is highly likely the employee will be fired or voluntarily self terminate. 

 But until this happens, clients might be short changed, even harmed. The work environment will suffer. And the organization will incur any expenses related to the termination, wasted resources in recruitment and training of the unsuccessful hire and the cost of going through the hiring and on boarding process again after only a short time. 

I think most supervisors are comfortable interviewing candidates for job fit, but less so, interviewing for mission fit. I suspect that most often it is unfamiliar to them. No one told them about hiring for Mission and Values fit. So, from here on out you have no excuse, because I am going to tell you how. 

I am going to use the Acronym KISS and commend to you the KISS Method to interviewing for Mission and Values fit, with KISS meaning keep it simple silly (feel free to substitute your own s words). 

1. First, confirm your own understanding of your organization’s Mission and Values. Read those sacred documents and confirm with your boss that your understanding is in sync with the organization. 

2. Add specific interview questions to help ascertain the candidate’s knowledge of the organization’s Mission and Values, and his/her willingness to embrace them as his/her own. 

3. A great first question would be to ask, “are you aware of our Mission and Values?” If the candidate says s/he is not aware, that in itself tells you something about him/her – they were not interested enough to search the Internet for your agency or to review its web site. 

4. If the candidate answers that s/he is familiar with the Mission and Values and does not volunteer how s/he knows, ask how they learned about them. Then follow up by asking the candidate what your Mission and Values mean to him/her. Ask clarifying questions to confirm the candidate’s understanding and comfort with and acceptance of the Mission and Values. 

5. I would recommend developing at least one question about your Mission Statement and one question for each of your agency’s values. For example, if one of your values is “teamwork”, perhaps ask, “Are you more comfortable problem solving on your own or as part of a team?” or, “If you see a co-worker is struggling with his/her workload, what would you do?” 

If the concept of focusing on Mission and Values during the interview process is new to you, developing such questions might be a stumbling block. The Internet can help. Searching for “Mission Fit Interview Questions” and “Culture Fit Interview Questions” will garner dozens of sample questions that you can adapt to your agency’s Mission and Values Statements. 

Here are a sampling of articles I found when I Googled those topics. All offer lots of good questions you can edit to suit your organizational culture and many offer guidance for assessing the candidates’ responses. 

·        “10 culture fit interview questions – and what to look for in the answers,” by Hire by Google

·        “18 Cultural Fit Job Interview Questions,” by Susan M. Heathfield for thebalancecareers.com

·        “50 of the Best Interview Questions to Assess Cultural Fit,” by Rise People 

·        “Top 71 Cultural Fit Interview Questions and Answers,” by Chitra Reddy for Wisestep

·        “7 Interview Questions That Assess Cultural Fit and How to Answer Them,” by Christian Rosa for hosco.com 

Closing Caveats:

1.     If you are using a search firm or an online recruitment service, be certain to share with them your Mission and Values statements. Introduce them to your organizational culture and show how the Mission and Values are reflected in the work you do. Ask them how they will include such interview questions in their process. 

2.     Include some Mission and Values questions in your reference checking process. 

3.     If candidates are to have multiple interviews for the position, adapt second and third Mission/Values interview questions to build upon the candidates’ responses to those questions in the prior interview. 

4.     To learn more about effective hiring practices, take a look at Chapter 8 in my book, Being a Supervisor 1.0: A handbook for the New, Aspiring, and Experienced Supervisor. 

Mission, and Values drive our organizations forward. The depth of our impact in the community reflects how deeply the Mission and Values are felt throughout the agency. By including Mission and Values during the interview process, you can reinforce your organization’s commitment to achieving its vision of a better world.

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