Its Not Tetris: Hire The Best People In the Present Of Work

You’ve probably been denied a job due to “fit” – as in, you are not the right fit for the role or the right fit for the organization. But what exactly does that mean?

We are in the middle of a hiring crisis. For many possible reasons, the pandemic drove many of us to resign from our jobs (see The Great Resignation). We may not have wanted to return to the office, restarting that commute we hated. We may have decided that life is too short to spend our lives doing a job we just like. Maybe we realized that the company was not aligned with our personal goals. Maybe we didn’t like the people we were working with. Whatever the reason, there are still many open jobs, even though we are just sliding into a recession.

In my view, there are many things wrong with the current hiring process and the state of talent acquisition in general. Like work and education, it, too, needs to be disrupted to meet the demands of the current workforce.

The concept of fit, when used honestly by recruiters and not just a white lie to fob off candidates they don’t like, is an interesting one. Basically, it means they can’t see how you can “fit” into the organization as the human you are. It is like Tetris, actually, if you think about it.

With Tetris, specifically shaped pieces fall from the sky to the bottom of the screen. It’s your job to make those pieces fit into lines. When you complete an entire line, the line disappears, and you can build more. The pieces have a few specific shapes, a square, a bar, and an L shape. The piece appears at the top of the screen and inexorably moves down the screen. You can control the piece in 2 ways – you can move the piece left and right, or you can rotate the piece. As the piece drops down towards the bottom, you move and rotate the piece to fit.

The role is at the bottom of the screen. The candidate in front of you is the Tetris piece. You look at the role and the piece and see if you can rotate or move it to fill the empty space in the role. If you can’t fill the space with this piece, you discard it (unlike in Tetris, where you can’t and must fit the piece in any way you can, even if it’s sub-optimal).

This is the model which is used often today. If the piece doesn’t fit, there are other pieces coming that fit better.

But this is wrongthink. Humans are not rigid Tetris pieces; the role is not the rigid playing field. You are making the assumption that both the piece (the human who aspires to the job) and the field (the role you wish to fill). But in reality, the human and the role are both malleable.

Humans are not rigid – they have the ability to change and grow. Humans are not L, bar, or square shaped; if they wish to (and most job seekers wish to), they can form into the role. Instead of a rigid shape, think of the human as more like gel or water, flowing to conform to the shape of the role. I think, given a chance, there are probably many more candidates suitable for the role you are trying to fill than you think.

You just need to readjust your vision of humans. We are more like water than rock.

Here’s a takeaway: the next time you are trying to fill a role, instead of looking for the perfect candidate, find one more junior and hungry, and bring them in as an apprentice. Put them on a short-term contract or something.

Sometimes,  the best way to find the right person for the job is to have them flow into it. I’ll bet that they will surprise you.