How to ensure person-organization fit in new hires: A 5-step guide

Written by Bruno Boksic
How to ensure person-organization fit in new hires - A 5-step guide
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When hiring for an open role, your key objectives may be to hire the most productive candidate and some who will stay at your company for as long as possible. But you also want new employees to get along well with their colleagues, peers, and managers. 

To ensure you get such a candidate, you need to hire candidates who are person-organization fit, or PO fit. 

This article will explore why hiring a good person-organization fit makes such a big difference, explain how to ensure you get a PO fit during your hiring process, and outline the pitfalls to avoid in your recruitment process. 

But first, let’s go over what a person-organization fit actually means.

What is a person-organization fit?

Simply stated, PO fit is an approach companies use to analyze whether an employee is compatible with the organization. It is a relatively new trend in business, with companies beginning to use it in the late 90s and early 2000s. 

But what do we actually mean when discussing an individual’s compatibility with a company? How do we measure it? How do we know if they’re a fit or not? 

To answer these questions, let’s see how the issue emerged in the first place. 

Person-job fit

Before the 2000s, the term used in organizations was “person-job fit.” This meant that companies actively tried to assess candidates in terms of the necessary skills to do the job successfully. 

If you were hiring a software engineer, you’d want to know if they could write code. If you were hiring a marketing manager, you’d need to know if they could use Google and Facebook ads. And if you were hiring an email marketer, you should be confident they can write email copy. 

Assessing the person-job fit was quite objective; candidates either possessed the skills to do the job or they didn’t. And hiring managers were able to verify their suitability by testing their role-specific skills. 

However, companies soon began to realize that only looking at the person-job fit when hiring candidates wasn’t enough. Some people had all the right skills for a specific job but were a nightmare to work with. 

This could crush morale and create unnecessary conflicts within the team, leading to negative outcomes, such as loss of productivity, employees disengaging from their work, and eventually people leaving the team and company altogether. 

That’s why companies realized that only assessing person-job fit didn’t cut it. They needed an additional metric in their recruitment processes, and that’s how person-organization fit came to be. 

Companies prioritizing PO fit want to find individuals with the necessary skills to do the job – but also those who share similar values, have a character that matches other employees, and subscribe to a similar outlook on life. They want someone who won’t just be another employee but a part of the company’s culture and a representative of it to the world. 

So which approach is better? Should you go for the person-job fit or the person-organization fit? 

Person-job fit or person-organization fit?

Person-job fit and person-organization fit aren’t mutually exclusive. You should always evaluate candidates’ core skills for the role. But you need skillful people who will also positively contribute to your company. 

Thus, on top of the person-job fit, you should assess your candidates’ person-organization fit. Here’s a good example to illustrate the point. 

Sounds True example

Sounds True, a Teal organization, is a US media company with around 90 employees. It’s in the business of providing spiritual teachings through books, online courses, and even music. The company was founded by Tami Simon back in 1985. 

When they were just starting out, they had problems with interpersonal communication in the company. To combat this, Tami Simon introduced a new way to handle these issues, which involved a three-step process to enable employees to have difficult conversations with each other: 

  • Here’s how I feel

  • Here’s what I need

  • What do you need?

This process was pivotal in solving many interpersonal conflicts in the company and helping it grow. Nevertheless, a chief operating officer had a problem with it: 

“When we first introduced this at the company, we had a COO who told me, ‘I don’t want to talk with other people about how I’m feeling. That’s not why you hired me. You hired me to run your operations, Tami. My wife has been trying to get me talking about my feelings for years unsuccessfully.

Now I come into work and you are trying to get me to talk about my feelings?’ I told him, ‘We are not going to be able to move forward emotionally, together as a group, if you can’t talk about your feelings. You have to commit to this process.’ He ended up leaving the company. People have to be okay with having a conversation about how they are feeling, what they need, and listening to what the other person needs.”

Excerpt from Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations

In this example, we see a senior employee with a person-job fit. However, he wasn’t a good person-organization fit so, eventually, he parted ways with the company. 

Another example is from Zappos, which pays new employees $2,000 if they decide to quit during their orientation period. Zappos realized early on that if you’re not a good person-organization fit, you won’t stick around for long enough. So they’re actively trying to discourage people from staying in the company if they realize they’re not a PO fit during their orientation period. 

Having both a person-job fit and a person-organization fit is necessary if you want highly productive employees that will stay in your company for a long time. 

With that in mind, let’s see how you can ensure a PO fit when hiring for your company. 

A 5-step guide on ensuring a person-organization fit when hiring candidates

a 5-step guide on ensuring a person-organization fit when hiring candidates

When hiring candidates, the following five-step guide will ensure that you only hire people who are a PO fit:

1. Job ad

Every recruitment process begins with writing the job description. When doing this, it’s essential to include not only the elements that will show you if the candidate is a person-job fit, but also the elements that will show you if the candidate is a good person-organization fit. 

So consider writing about your company’s culture, and list the values and behaviors you want the new candidate to show in the workplace. This will have a double effect: 

  • It will drive away candidates who don’t find themselves in this description. They will eliminate themselves from the process since they will realize it’s not the workplace where they want to work (like the chief operating officer from the Sounds True example). 

  • It will attract candidates who feel like the job ad is talking to them. In other words, they will realize they’re a PO fit. 

2. Attraction

After you write the job description, it’s time to publicize that open role on job boards. To do so, you shouldn’t just put up a “seeking a candidate” type of job ad. You want to get creative so you can appeal to the right kind of candidate. 

When Ernest Shackleton was gathering a crew to conquer the Antarctica, he put up an ad: 

“WANTED: men for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”

A certain kind of person will look at such an ad and see a perfect match. Others will be repelled by it, but that’s the whole point of it: You’re looking for people with whom the ad resonates – those candidates who will have an immediate buy-in. 

So when crafting your job ad, think in terms of Steve Jobs’ advertisement that appealed just the right kind of people (in his case, to use/buy the computers). You know, the “crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes … the ones who see things differently.

3. Selection process

Once you’ve collected enough applicants, it’s time to put them through the selection process. This is where you need to match the right person you’re looking for with the candidates who have applied for the role. 

Even with creative job advertisements that only attract certain kinds of people, an average open role still gets more than 200 applications. So a hiring manager will have their hands full selecting the right applicants. 

Evaluating resumes isn’t the best option. The average resume gets only 6-8 seconds of time from the hiring manager, and even if they are reviewed properly it’s difficult to assess candidates adequately from such a limited document. 

When you look at a resume, you’re actually assessing the candidate’s resume-writing skills, not the qualities they will need when working for the company. 

To solve this problem, consider using pre-employment tests in your hiring process. These are better indicators of job success than education levels, intelligence, and even experience. 

So take a look at TestGorilla’s pre-employment tests. We have over 200 scientifically created tests to help you assess candidates objectively and without bias. On top of that, you can send tests to all your candidates instantly, no matter if you have 20 or 220 applicants. 

And because test results are numerical, you can easily compare candidates to see who did better. Last but not least, you can use our tests to assess both the person-job fit as well as person-organization fit. 

Pre-employment tests like the Culture Add test or Enneagram personality test are better suited to review person-organization fit, while tests like the Branding Strategy test, Customer Service test, and Node.js online test are focused on person-job fit. 

4. Interviewing 

When interviewing candidates, you should have a clear sense of what it means for someone to be a PO fit. You need a clear criteria for assessment so that bias won’t sneak into the process.

You can use structured interviews to ensure all candidates get the same treatment. In addition, you can use a collaborative hiring process so that you have employees from different teams on interviews. 

This will help the hiring manager to assess who might be a good PO fit because the candidates will work with those attending the interview. 

5. Onboarding

The final step in the process is to ensure that you onboard the person in the right way. If you’re only hiring a candidate for the person-job fit, then you only show them their workstation and go over the main points that they need to start working. 

But hiring a candidate who is a good person-organization fit means considering social onboarding as well. You want this person to feel like part of the team and the company, ensuring they are welcomed as warmly as possible into their new work environment. 

That can mean different things depending on the working culture. There are endless options, from having the chief executive send them a video message to their team manager taking them out to lunch. How you approach social integration in your workplace will depend on your company’s culture. 

Learn more: The ultimate guide to virtual onboarding processes

The possible problems of person-organization fit

If you’re not clear on the criteria that make someone a PO fit, then you’re leaving the decision to the hiring managers. And hiring managers may not always agree on the criteria for determining a PO fit. 

It is possible for a hiring manager to mistake a person-organization fit with the candidate liking the same basketball team or passing the beer test. 

That is why companies need clear metrics to guide hiring managers when considering whether a candidate is a culture add (instead of a culture fit)

Conclusion

Hiring a person-organization fit will help you elevate your company. You will have a more productive team that stays longer in the company. And to ensure you pick the right candidates, you should use pre-employment tests in your hiring process. 

This is where TestGorilla can help you out. Don’t leave your hiring process to chance – book a demo call with us and let’s discuss your specific hiring needs.

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