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Staffing and Selection – Person/Job Fit and Person/Organization Fit

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The goal of any company is to increase its profits and efficiency, and to do that, it need the human capital. Most of the companies have realized their workforce is their most valuable asset because it can give them a competitive advantage. Thus, the duty of the human resource management department is to aid the execution of the firm’s strategic goals in finding employees who “fit” well with the exact requirements of the job offered. In fact, it is really important for the organisation and the job applicant to be sure that the right job goes to the right person; offering the job to the wrong person may cause bad consequences for both the employee and the company. Thus, candidates have to thoroughly understand their job requirements so that they can decide if they could do it well. Also, they need to be informed on what type of organization they may join and if it will suit them. There are many different types of match in staffing, but in the perspective of a Staffing Quality Model, human resource managers use mainly two different ways, among others, to asses the suitability for a job: person-job fit and person-organisation fit. These job-fit measures are based on comparing the applicant’s skills to the job requirements and also on comparing applicant’s personality, values, interests and ambitious to the culture and characteristics of the organization.

It raises a fundamental question: Are these two models of staffing really efficient and do they ad value to the company in terms of the workforce’s quality? These two concepts of job/organization-fit measures will be presented and discussed separately, followed by an evaluation of their use and efficiency in the making selection process of the company. I. The person-job fit concept

The person-job fit is the traditional approach that organizations use for assessment tools in the hiring process. When a company issues a job advertisement, it characterizes the job with its requirements and rewards whereas the applicant is characterized with his qualifications and motivation. In order to be well fitted for a job, there has to be a match between the applicant and job’s characteristics. In other words, the person-job fit corresponds to the match between the individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities (called KSAOs), needs and demands of the job and what is actually provided by the job. For example, if a person is very logical, good in mathematics and likes physics, he is fitted to be an engineer.

Needless to say that companies need to furnish accurate and realistic information about the job, so that the applicant can analyse the degree of match between there KSAOs and the job requirements. Because, when there is a job fit, the employee is very satisfied in his work, has no intention to leave the company and is very productive; he adds value to the organization. For the matching process, companies have a lot of tests for every type of skills and competency. For example, they can assess for personal skills, intelligence, adaptation, cognitive preferences, leadership, autonomy, efficiency under pressure and others.

However, as a staffing model, this concept has some limits and companies don’t only use the person-job fit in order to find the right person for the job. In fact, they also want to assess if the applicant is a good match for the organization.

II. The person-organization fit concept

We have seen that companies’ first priority is to make sure that the applicant is well fitted to the job in a way that he fills all the job requirements. However, organizations need to think beyond whether someone simply has the technical skills and the experience needed to perform in the job: they need to assess their fit with the culture of the company.

Kristof defined the person-organization fit as the “compatibility between people and organizations that occurs when at least one entity provides what the other needs, or they share similar fundamental characteristics, or both.” In other words, it’s the match between the person and the organization’s characteristics. The beliefs and values of the applicant need to be in congruence with the culture, norms and values of the company. For example, a person who works more efficiently as an individual than in a group will be more fitted for a job that stresses individual tasks, such as accountancy more than salesman. It is really important to explore the reasons why a person has performed well in their previous jobs and to consider the similarities between these two jobs, because being successful in one organization does not necessarily imply success in the same job but in another company.

After presenting and discussing these two concepts, we are now going to analyse and evaluate their use in the selection and staffing process.

III. The use and the evaluation of these two models of staffing

We have seen that what are person-job fit and person-organization, but we need to know first how companies use and should use these concepts for making selection decision. Then, we will evaluate their efficiency and their repercussions on the company.

Generally speaking, we can assume in a first place that they contain a lot of advantages for the organization in terms of selection, but there is a way to use them. The person-job fit and person-organization fit have to be complementary measures and shouldn’t be used separately during the hiring process, because they assess different aspects of the job: the skills and competencies of the individual but also the personality. Moreover, the company can use a system of weight in which they can choose to weight more either the person-job or the person-organization fit depending on the type of job they offer. For example, the person-job fit will be more weighted for a fixed-term employment and a knowledge-intensive position, because this model is focusing especially on the knowledge and skills of the applicant for a specific number of tasks requested. However, the person-organization fit will be more weighted for a permanent position. The weight process depends on the needs and expectations of the organization regarding the job vacancy.

Using the person-job fit model is not really a difficult task for the company, because the human resources department has some traditional assessments in order to measure the fit between the individual and the job characteristics. They usually use cognitive ability tests, accomplishment record, resumes analyses, interviews, references checks and a variety of other selection tools, which are pretty efficient because of the objectiveness of these processes. On the contrary, it’s much more difficult in employee selection practices to measure the person-organization fit because it relates to abstracts concepts. For instance, it’s really easy to assess the match between an applicant’s mathematical ability and the level in mathematics required for the job. However evaluating the match between the applicant’s personality and the organization’s culture is much more subjective.

We need to point out the fact that the person-organization fit is not measured during the hiring process such as the interview. In fact, we can see that it is discussed most of the time, after the interview in hiring-related conversations with colleagues, after having a first impression of the applicant. For example, we can imagine some discussions like: “Pierre is really young and dynamic, that’s what we need. I think he is a really good fit for our firm. Let’s hire him!” Therefore, the person-organization fit is mainly based on subjectivity and can be complex to assess.

However, we can imagine a way of measuring the person-organization fit in order to reduce the degree of subjectivity. First of all, the organization needs to define its culture and habits. All the employees have to meet in order to establish a baseline of the company’s culture: criteria or list of values, which best characterize and identify the organization. Then, during the hiring process, a list of values should be given to the applicant, in which he will have to rank their own personal values in terms of their work environment preferences. Finally, the company will compare the applicant’s ranking of work values with the list of values that was created in order to summarize the organization’s culture. This person-organization fit process will help the company in making selection decisions.

These two models of staffing can contain a lot of advantages for the company who knows how to use them properly. First, it can be an efficient way to send a clear message to those sharing the same values. Indeed, it is really important for companies to have a work environment where people share the same interests, values and objectives. By matching the right personality with the right company, the company will observe a decrease in the turnover, because the greater the person-organization fit is, the more likely employees will want to stay in that company. In fact, the person-organization fit increases the commitment of employees to the firm and its missions and therefore enhances the workers’ satisfaction. For instance, people working in Facebook are really satisfied about their job and they show that they really want to stay and evolve in that company, simply because they perfectly fit with the organization’s image and values. Finally, the use of the person-organization fit can also create an organizational identification, which can be very useful for all kinds of important decisions, because during the assessment process between the two parties, managers have to actually think about what characterizes their company.

However, these two models contain some limits in their use and efficiency. First, when companies are in a hiring process, they should not be too focused on the person-job fit concept. Admittedly it is a really useful measure, but the duties and requirements of a job often change in time. Organizations need potential, and some individuals can add value to the company beyond boundaries of their own job. Therefore, the person-job fit cannot be always efficient because of change over time in an organization. And it is the same problem with the person-organization fit: all companies undergo changes regarding the work environment, values, culture and image. For instance, one employee who used to be satisfied working in Nike 10 years ago does not imply that he will be satisfied today, because of the changes in the company’s strategies and management (changes in the segmentation and positioning of the brand).

Secondly, using too much the person-organization fit concept can lead to some deviations. Companies should not think this way: “hiring for the organization and not for the job”, because it can be dangerous in many ways. Organizations can exclude qualified candidates because their face does not fit to the company’s image. It is not because one person’s look or way of thinking is different that he cannot fulfil the job duties and add value to the company. Finally, there is another issue with the use of person-organization measure. Usually, organizations have a large number of groups and each do not share the same values all the time. Therefore, it is important to assess the match between the individual not only with the company’s culture but also with the group that the person will be working with.

The person-job fit and the person-organization fit can be very valuable for the company in making selection decision, because they provide a lot of benefits such as worker satisfaction or organizational identification. However, these models are sometimes criticised because of their limits and their non-efficiency in some situations. Companies should know how to use them during the hiring process. One is not a substitute for the other; they are complimentary measures that they should take into account for different aspects of the job. They are very useful for the company to find the right person for the job, but organizations should not use only these measures when making hiring decisions; the process has to be based on multiple sources of information and assessments.


* Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (2005), 78, The British Psychological Society * The Value of Person-Organization fit (2004), Charles Handler * Improving Interactional Organizational Research: A Model of Person-Organization Fit (1989), Academy of Management Review, 14, Jennifer Chatman * The Attraction-Selection-Framework (1995), Personnel Psychology, 48, Schneider, Goldstein & Smith * Hiring for the organization, not the job (1991), Academy of Management Executive, 5, Bowen, Ledford & Nathan * Person-organization fit: An integrative review of its conceptualisations, measurement and implications (1996), Personnel Psychology, 49, Kristof * Consequences of individuals’ fit at work: A meta-analysis of person-job, person-organization, person-group and person-supervisor fit (2005), Personnel Psychology, 58, Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman & Johnson * Person-organization fit and person-job fit in employee selection: a review of the literature (2004), Osaka Keidai Ronshu, Tomoki Sekiguchi * Finding and keeping the Right People (2000), Prentice-Hall, Billsberry * Staffing Organizations (2012), McGraw-Hill, Heneman & Judge * What is person-environment congruence? Supplementary versus complementary models of fit (1987), 31, Journal of Vocational Behaviour, Muchinsky & Monahan

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