How can I tell you if something is a good fit? A former US Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, in 1964 essentially said that he couldn’t use words to define pornography, but he knew it when he saw it. That’s the same as fit, and you will know it when you see or feel it.
I will say this, and it’s hard to see and feel fit from a computer or phone calls. You have to go to the business or school and see for yourself. I found it beneficial to talk with numerous people about a place, but walking in the doors gives you the ground truth. Don’t just take a guided tour, slip away and talk with folks. Get a feel for the place, see what people that are walking around have to say. Talk with the janitor, discuss with executives, speak with the executive assistants, communicate with everyone you can find.
Ask some tough questions. What would you change around here? Do you enjoy coming here every day? How’s your day going? What’s your take on the culture here? Don’t be shy about asking these questions. With this information, you can get an honest feel if this is the place.
I would suggest looking for passion. Are the folks in the building passionate about what they do? Positivity is contagious, we all want to be around positive people. Think back to your time in a team room with a guy who is Mr. Negative, they drain the lifeblood out of an organization. I’d also recommend turning the ole bulls**t meter on and getting an accurate reading. Is it a typical day or is this when they pulled out all of the camouflage? We have all seen and been a part of dog and pony shows, follow your instincts.
I’ll give you an example of how I determined fit. I was searching for business schools to apply to and through my research one school rose to the top of my list. I went for a visit to this fantastic college, and within the first hour, it became the only school on my list. I knew it was a fit! I didn’t need anyone to tell me that, I knew it with every bone in my body that this was the place for me. You could pay me $1,000,000 to describe that feel and fit. I’ll give you some words. However, these words would be inadequate to explain what I felt. I just knew it! The people, the setting, and the energy, it all just clicked.
I believe its important that we all fit. We see how well it works when you put a round peg into a square hole. It’s a lot easier to picture with the round and square pegs versus ourselves in a place. However, you will feel it and know it in your heart when you are a fit for an organization.