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Adaptability: Why it counts
in today’s workplace
Among the skills that employers are looking for in a potential employee, adaptability is ranked the highest along with communication, interpersonal skills and a strong work ethic. Every company looks for a candidate who fits within the existing work environment and is able to anticipate, respond to and manage change on a day-to-day basis.
Each organization has its own workplace culture that is strategically important for the company’s success. When hiring, companies consider not only a candidate’s experience and skills, but also how that potential employee will mesh with the company culture.
Cultural fit can mean many things: for example, it could be a candidate’s willingness and readiness to adopt the company’s values. It can also mean that a candidate’s work style matches the company’s expectations. One question asked during interviews and aimed to discover the level of a candidate’s adaptability is: “Will you follow the set values and encourage similar behavior in your subordinates?” Other times a candidate is asked to describe the culture of their last employer or the type of culture they prefer.
Adaptability can often be a deal-breaker in the job search process. Even if a candidate makes a good impression due to their experience and skills, they will not be hired if they demonstrate a lack of willingness to adapt to the new environment and to get out of their comfort zone. In fact, a company will many times choose a candidate who lacks experience, but nevertheless fits perfectly into the company culture. A candidate can be trained to have the needed skills, the company says, but adaptability is something an employee must bring with them to the job.
Why are companies so concerned about getting the perfect fit? Employees who fit into the company culture tend to be more successful and productive than those hired simply because they fit the job description. Some studies indicate that almost half of an employee’s success in the first 18 months of being hired results from fitting well into the company environment.
When applying for a management position, adaptability becomes even more crucial. Managers affect subordinates and their attitudes towards the corporate culture. The higher the position for which a candidate is applying, the more the hiring committee will be looking for a nearly perfect fit with the company culture. Making the mistake of hiring someone who reflects the wrong company image can cost the company reputation dearly.
So how does this affect you? When applying for a position, pay attention to the company regulations. Figure out for yourself if that company’s environment is something you can easily fit into. If you don’t find it suitable for yourself, then don’t go into the interview telling them you like the company culture and can be flexible. Finding yourself in an environment that does not suit your personality can compromise your chances of success. Instead, take the time to find an organization that fits you and enhances your natural skills.
Questions about your job search? Come to the Office of Career Services walk-in hours to meet with a career counselor.
—Written by Anna Morlang, CareerCATS Coordinator for the Office of Career Services
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