Using Person-Organization Fit In Selection
Imagine a situation in which an individual has found an occupation that suits his needs, works for a pleasant supervisor, and receives a competitive wage and benefits.
While this may sound like a storybook tale, if we further consider that the same individual enjoys working in teams, is excited by working to meet challenging goals, and cherishes the opportunity to make important decisions without asking for approval, all of which his organization does not foster, suddenly our storybook tale has taken a turn for the dark side: now our protagonist is unhappy, underperforming, and surfing the internet for a new place to work.
What is Person-Organization Fit?
Person-Organization fit (P-O fit) is a concept that goes back many years, and is generally defined as compatibility between employees and their organizations. Compatibility can result from one party supplying a need of the other party, similar values across parties, or both. Researchers have found meaningful relationships with P-O fit as a predictor of work attitudes, job performance, and turnover.
Why is P-O Fit Important?
The general idea behind the importance of P-O fit is based on the attraction-selection-attrition (A-S-A) theory.
According to the A-S-A theory, individuals are attracted to organizations with similar values and organizations tend to hire such individuals during the selection process. Finally, attrition becomes important as the employee sees first-hand the extent to which he or she is actually congruent with the organization, leading to a choice to either continue working for or leave the company.
What does P-O Fit Predict?
As mentioned previously, P-O fit has demonstrated relationships with three very important outcomes:
- Work attitudes
- Job Performance
While each of the three aforementioned outcomes is related to P-O fit, these relationships vary in magnitude; the strongest relationships are listed first.
- Work attitudes – The link between P-O fit and work attitudes is the strongest and most robust: the more an individual fits with the organization, the more likely he or she is to display higher levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment.
- Turnover – Considering the high cost of turnover, this relationship is very important to the bottom line. It seems obvious, but individuals do not enjoy working for companies that do not align well with their personal values and often leave as a result.
- Job Performance – When individuals do not feel they fit well with the organization, it often has negative effects on the effort they put forth at work, leading to lower levels of job performance. Researchers have found P-O Fit to relate to both task performance (performance on tasks required of the job) and contextual performance (performance on tasks outside of those required by the job, like Organizational Citizenship Behaviors).
Implications for Practice
With the relationship between P-O fit and important work outcomes firmly established, the question becomes, how can organizations leverage this knowledge?
Unfortunately, as it is currently conceptualized, P-O fit cannot be taught. The values and interests individuals have when they join an organization are longstanding, and will likely not change much as a result of employment.
The alternative option is to look for applicants who match the company and bring them aboard to increase overall fit. This option is gaining in popularity in the last few years and will likely continue on that trend.
To bring people aboard who match the organization, a P-O fit test, interview, or other form of selection tool will likely need to be implemented.
Several consulting firms are available to aide in this type of selection.
Going back to our initial example, let’s say our fictions organization implemented a screening tool to help choose the right people for the organization. As a result, the organization hires a different employee, one who prefers to work individually, is partial to working towards less optimistic goals, and would rather fall back on management when making important decisions. Now the organization and employee fit very well and stay together for a long time, perhaps living happily ever after
David Daly DeGarmo ( Pristinely
This was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Arthur Jr., W., Bell, S. T., Villado, A. J., & Doverspike, D. (2006). The use of person-organization fit in employment decision making: An assessment of its criterion-related validity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 786-801.