How do you hire a top performer?  Just click a few keys and hundreds if not thousands of tips, techniques, and theories pop up in a quick search of the Internet.  But when all is said and done, you can boil the most effective systems down to one of two methodologies: screening out candidates who would be poor hires or selecting in applicants who would make good hires.  

The first step in effective staffing depends upon identifying the proper employee fit. Traditionally most hiring systems and processes focus on employee fit – the match between a person’s abilities and the demands of the jobs.  Job descriptions, classified ads, and interview questions target functional/technical skills, education requirements, and past experience.  That worked well for decades.  Once hired, an employee stayed with a single employee– often doing the same job day to day for decades.  Employers valued employees and treated them like family. Employees were rewarded with a paycheck and tenure in exchange for a hard day’s work. Things like team fit, culture fit, and vocation fit were secondary.

But the definition of work has changed. Job requirements have changed as well, transitioning from a world when brawn and physical skills were as much as an asset as were brains and knowledge.  Lifelong “permanent” jobs have all but disappeared. Careers are in a state of constant flux. Job requirements are more complex and the skills and abilities required to do them change regularly. Past experience isn’t as effective a predictor of future success as it once was.  And employees with the right skills are demanding more than just a paycheck. Because of this, hiring for fit has changed as well.

Employers who limit employee screening and selection to the person-job fit dimension exclusively inevitably experience high rates of employee dissatisfaction, low employee engagement, and higher rates of turnover and termination. Consequently, three other dimensions of employee fit must be considered before hiring a job candidate and promoting an employee.

The person-team fit (or group fit) between the employee and his co-workers and supervisor has grown in importance over the past decade. In many organizations the fit between an employee and his co-workers and clients is even more critical than between the person and the work. “Hire attitude, train skills” is an increasingly popular hiring mantra.

Good person-team fit means that an individual fits and appreciates the different interpersonal styles, goals, and skills of team members. Because teamwork, interpersonal communication and collaboration can be as critical these days as functional skills, many organizations now place a high value during the screening and selection process on identifying job candidates who will fit on the team as well as do the job.

Many employers are also placing a growing importance on person-organization fit, particularly those organizations with strong missions and commitments to a purpose.  Person-organization fit is the fit between an individual’s values, beliefs, and personality and the values, competencies, and culture of the organization.  Examples of organizational values and competencies include integrity, work ethic, competitiveness, and citizenship.   This is a challenging factor for many employers to implement.  Finding an ample supply of skilled workers is difficult enough these days.  Turning down a highly skilled candidate with a good person-job fit because he or she doesn’t share the same values and beliefs of the organization requires a lot of guts and commitment. But ignoring the organization fit of employees often results in poor performance and turnover.

A fourth and final dimension of employee fit is person-vocation fit – a fit between an individual’s interests, abilities, values, and personality and the occupation itself. While most employees have chosen an occupation long before they are hired, a growing and critical opportunity exists for organizations committed to effective staffing.  Companies that want to develop their own leaders or build a talent pipeline using the current workforce may be able to use an employee’s vocational interests to determine good fit. Retaining skilled and valued employees would be easier if employees matched the competencies, goals, and interests of workers with the rewards and requirements of the occupation, which is why hiring for fit is so important.


Possible Job Fit Test Software to Measure Dimensions of Employee Fit

Person-job fit

                Cognitive skill tests

                Technical, functional, and office skill tests

                Job knowledge

                Previous experience

                Personality related to performing job tasks


Person-group fit

                Team work skill test

                Personality related to team work, collaboration, communication

                Behavioral style and values assessment to evaluate compatibility and/or sources of conflict


Person-organization fit

Values assessment to evaluate alignment between personal motivators and the organization’s purpose, goals, and values.


Person-vocation fit

                Aptitude tests

                Interest tests

                Values assessment

                Abilities test

                Personality related to demands of jobs within an occupation