Hiring for Fit: How To Apply It to Your Process

By Caroline Roberson on June 9, 2022

It’s common sense that when a person’s traits and abilities align with their job, they are happier, more productive, and stay with an organization longer. Knowing this is what drives recruiters and hiring managers to say they’re “looking for a good fit”.

Hiring for fit needs to be approached thoughtfully. According to Harvard Business Review, finding the right people is not a matter of culture fit, “People with all sorts of personalities can be great at the job you need done. This misguided hiring strategy can also contribute to a company’s lack of diversity since very often the people we enjoy hanging out with have backgrounds much like our own. Making great hires is about recognizing great matches.”

Fit beyond first impressions.

Organizations must approach “fit” with an educated and informed approach.

In best-case scenarios, when people say, “We’re looking for a good fit,” they mean they’re looking for someone who can do the job, be a good teammate, show up on time, and stay with the organization for a significant period. It’s a way of saying you’re looking for a strong, quality hire.

Finding a “good culture fit” also highlights that organizations want to find candidates who are not only suitable for a specific role but who are also a match for the organization’s values and could be considered for future positions, too. A good culture fit can mean finding someone who fits with the organization, in addition to matching with the job in question.

Those are positive aspects of “looking for a good fit,” but in the worst case, hiring for “fit” can mean finding someone likable or someone with whom the decision-maker feels an affinity. Historically, fit has been used to make hiring decisions which may be biased and based solely on likeability and first impressions. It’s essential to look at the theory behind the concept of fit to ensure you remove bias.

What are the theories about “fit?”

The idea is that when a person “fits” with an organization, they produce great results. Fit translates into a positive attitude, a willingness to contribute, and a desire to stay with the organization. Being a “fit” creates feelings of comfort, self-worth, self-identity, and having needs fulfilled.

Several levels of fit fall under the umbrella of person-environment (PE) fit:

  1. person-job (PJ)
  2. person-group (PG)
  3. person-supervisor (PS), and
  4. person-organization (PO)

We provide details and specifics about each level in this post. These levels are all significant and can contribute to how well a candidate fits with their role and within the organization.

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How does a “better fit” decrease turnover and increase retention?

You can make better hiring decisions by applying objective fit measurements. Measuring fit, such as through a pre-hire assessment, illuminates the congruency between person and organization instead of that person’s similarity to the recruiter or hiring manager.

Research has shown that person-environment (PE) fit at various levels predicts job satisfaction, successful adjustment after hire, job performance, organizational commitment, reduced stress, and lower turnover.

Berke customers have reduced turnover by 17% to 63% after implementing job fit assessments. Most recently, a telecommunications provider reduced turnover of field techs by 48%, which translated into close to six million dollars in savings (just by applying the Berke job fit assessment to one role).

Looking at how you can successfully apply fit measurement to your hiring and onboarding process is a worthwhile endeavor. It will save you valuable time and effort by bringing high performers to the forefront. Ultimately, when getting fit right, employees benefit from feelings of success and the ability to contribute to your organization.

“Fit” is a very complicated topic that deserves careful thought and consideration. Falling back on the opinion that “we’ll know a good fit when we see one” may be doing damage to your company because these types of judgments are often affected by unconscious bias or are out of sync with what success looks like for the job, team, and company.

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