Why Chemistry Is Vital In The Workplace


“Why should I hire you over the other applicants being considered for this position?”

That’s a question that is either asked or implied in the job interview process in every single job interview that has ever taken place. Think about it for a moment and you’ll realize that it must be true or otherwise it would be wise for every employer to forgo the interview process and select their candidate from the pile of resumes that they receive without ever meeting you in person.

It a job market where it is fairly probable that a number of applicants will present with similar qualifications, skills, and experience, what it often comes down to in the end is which of the applicants will be the best fit with the organization on a personal level. The interview becomes the opportunity to find out about your personality, your interests, your interpersonal skills, how you go about interacting with customers, co-workers, supervisors etc. Why? Simply put you are the unknown quantity.

Interviewers may initially be someone who is concerned with your technical abilities and if what you say you have done are things that can be verified. However, in a second interview, or at some point in the interview, you’ll be wise to sense that the interview is moving more towards questions about you and how you tick.

Sometimes in an interview – especially if it’s a second interview, different people sit across the table and join in the selection process. Who are they and why are they sitting there? Simple. The newcomers are now the people who will be conducting the direct supervision, or are the climate controllers. They have a good understanding of the people already part of the team you are being considered for as a new member. What they are now looking at is how someone with your personality will fit in. Are you going to be abrasive and stir things up, or will your addition nicely mix with the existing personalities on that team. And all of a sudden its high school chemistry all over again.

Have you for example ever run across a person who for example is all intellectual but has poorly developed social skills? Sure they have all the answers, are deep thinkers and know exactly the direction a group of people should move in to be successful in their view. However, they lack the ability to connect with others, distance themselves because of their social awkwardness, and knowing that, avoid contact with others when they can. This person might bring expertise to a company, but they may actually detract from overall productivity if they can’t forge those important personal relationships necessary to get buy-in and collaboration from their peers. The result is animosity, dysfunction and mistrust in a group.

Another example may be a very laid-back individual who from the outside, doesn’t appear to take themselves or their work seriously enough for the rest of a team. The work they produce may be on par with others, but their casual attitude, lighthearted jokes, lack of intensity gets other team members focused less on productivity and more on what they find annoying in that person.

Okay, so chemistry is important but how do you go about finding out what the existing chemistry is on a team if you can’t actually sit down with the members of a team? For starters, have a look at the website of an organization and what values they espouse. You can also ask this question in an interview, which demonstrates an awareness on your part that in addition to your expertise and skills, the ‘people’ component of a job is of paramount importance.

So that opening question that started this blog, “Why should I hire you over the other applicants being considered for this position?” Here’s one way to go about answering it.

A. “I’m pretty sure at this point that you’ve narrowed down your interviews to those of us who have the technical skills and experience to competently perform the work. However, what differentiates me from my competition is my sensitivity to the concerns of the existing people I’d be working with. Anytime you add a new employee, the chemistry of a team must change in some way. Supervisors and co-workers worry about adding the wrong person who might adversely affect daily operations. You can be assured that I’m aware of this and know my positive attitude and strong interpersonal skills will accelerate the transition process, and in short, I’ll fit in better and faster so you get a stronger team that ultimately results in greater productivity.”

Think back yourself to times when someone new was hired as an addition or replacement to your assembly line, office, department or team. Didn’t you honestly wonder who it might be, what they’d be like, would you like them, would they be nice or aloof? And the day they were introduced to you and your group, didn’t you honestly immediately make some kind of initial judgement that later you changed or confirmed? You did if you’re honest. It’s chemistry again and again.

Think about Supervisors you’ve loved to work for, or conversely didn’t get along with. Or possibly the employee you couldn’t motivate, and just got under your skin. In either case you’re going out of your way to avoid making a similar mistake again. Chemistry.

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