Person-Job-Fit: Finding the Right Candidate for Each Position

The most important asset that every organization has its people; they build the products, they ARE the company. Finding the right candidates to join is the essential and difficult task of every recruiter. They can make it easier on themselves and provide better employees if they use the principles of person-job-fit.

Person-Job Fit

Person-job-fit (P-J fit) is a structure, which measures the compatibility between an individual’s characteristics (psychological & biological needs, goals, values, personality and abilities) and those of the specific job they are going to do. Within P-J fit are several subcomponents: Person-role-fit (P-R fit), Person-group/Person-team fit (P-G/P-T fit), Person-organization/company fit (P-O fit), and Person-person fit (P-P fit). Each playing a vital role in how an employee will be able to work at the company. The same role on a different team, or at a different company is going to be a different job and therefore require slightly different components for fitting in and performing optimally.

Over the course of my next few posts I’ll cover each of the sub points with greater depth and real-world applications.

Person-Role Fit

P-R fit measures the relationship between an individual and the specific work they will be doing. This is the fit relationship most commonly thought of when talking about person-job-fit .

For instance, sales people are usually thought of as being extremely extraverted, but research out of the Wharton School of Business has shown that the highest sales performers are actually ambiverts, those whose demonstrations lie in the middle of the spectrum. These ambiverts are more likely to have an easier time relating to people demonstrating either high or low extraversion.

Neuroticism often has a negative connotation in society, but in certain instances it is a strength. Those employed in certain financial roles like accounting or as a CFO have shown a positive correlation between higher levels of neuroticism and high performance in these areas.

Person-Team Fit

P-G fit measures the relationship between an individual and the group of people that they will be working with. More difficult to measure than person-role fit, a cohesive and high-performing team will combine similarity within certain traits and complementarity in others.

PG fit is an important consideration in employee selection. Group members who fit contribute more, are more satisfied with their work and work relationships, have reduced tardiness and absenteeism, and are less likely to turnover. – Daniel Maurath, LinkedIn Talent Analytics

The area where similar trait demonstrations are needed is in work-style. This is most strongly seen among the traits of “Conscientiousness”. If you have a team where everyone is used to picking problems from a pile and beginning work on them and then someone who needs much more attention and direction is added to the team, then they will think they have not been given proper support and everyone else will think that the new person is a slacker.

Person-Company Fit

P-O fit measures the relationship between an individual and the company as a whole. In addition to behavioral tendencies, this fit relationship is heavily influenced by the values and cultural norms of the company and those of the individual.

According to research at Cornell University, interviewers were able to assess applicants’ values with above-chance levels of accuracy and their perceived P-C fit of the interviewee was one of the strongest determinants in their hiring decision.

Person-Person Fit

P-P fit measures the relationship between an individual and the other individuals that they will work with. These can be colleagues, managers, or direct reports. While P-P fit is very important between colleagues, P-G fit is usually taken into account more. Where P-P fit is most assessed is between managers and their reports.

There is a saying about retention that describes a poor fit: “You join a company and leave a manager.” This fit is so important that even eHarmony is getting into the recruiting game using a modification of their dating algorithms.

By making sure that you’re analyzing each candidate for fit on all of these scales and not just for that of the role itself you’ll greatly increase your chances of hiring a new employee that will slide effortlessly into their place within your company. They’ll have greater cohesion with their teammates, higher engagement with their work, and ultimately bring in more revenue for the organization.

Ravi Mikkelsen

Ravi Mikkelsen is the CEO and cofounder of jobFig, an HR focused behavioral analytics startup in San Francisco, CA. A lifelong entrepreneur and nomad, he has been involved with startups in three countries on two continents and has lived in 9 different cities. Connect with Ravi.


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