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The Science of Hiring, Part 2: Cultural Fit and Productivity

Job Fit: Theory and Science


Last week began a series of blogs on The Science of Hiring. Consider reading the article about Job Fit: it isn’t what you think. In Part 1, the concept of Job-Fit proved to have a different definition to jobseekers than it did to the hiring professional. This week, I’d like to discuss the “measurement” of Job Fit from the human resource perspective.

Mind you, I’m not saying that I agree with this process or that the results are consistently accurate. However, I think it’s important for jobseekers and employees to understand how hiring professionals approach this topic. (In a later blog, I’ll tell you about my personal experience.)

Measuring Job Fit
The measurement or “Value of Person—to Organization Fit” is workplace efficiency or how quickly work gets done. The more efficient a person is in an environment, the higher their P-O rating. It’s about productivity. So it is easy to see why “job fit” is of primary importance in the hiring process.

Jobseekers take notice!
Forbes posted The most important reason people fail in a new job. They site that, “89% of job failures are due to cultural fit.” That’s a remarkably high percentage and it is also the reason that hiring professionals make a big deal about ensuring it is a good fit.

If you are a jobseeker, failure to consider cultural fit could cost you years in your career—and the chances of failing in a position that isn’t a good fit are extremely high. So jobseekers should put this at the top of their list when assessing whether a job is a good choice for them.

Job-Fit = productivity …so what is it?
The common definition of “workplace productivity” in Job-Fit Theory is that, it “gauges integration with organizational competencies. The Individual is assessed on these competencies, which reveals efficacy, motivation, influence, and co-worker respect. Competencies can be assessed using various tools like psychological tests, competency based interview, situational analysis, etc.”

It’s science:
Job-Fit is so important that the hiring industry has developed an entire science to find tangible methods to identify the candidates with the best fit. That’s why candidates are asked to take personality tests during the hiring process. Generally hiring professionals consider three layers when evaluating a candidate.
  1. Knowledge and skills: How quickly can a candidate bring value? In other words, how much training will they need?
  2. Environment: This considers a candidate’s values and their ability to work well with others.
  3. Future value. This includes considerations for succession planning and the company’s growth strategy.
Assessments are also used with current employees to make organizational decisions, promote business growth, and aid in succession planning.

In this one-minute video a hiring professional discusses how they use assessments and what they learn from them. This person is from Korn/Ferry International, a leader in the recruitment industry. Notice the comment that the purpose is to find the “highest performing candidate.”

Should candidates try to out-smart the test?
Assessments are used across the hiring spectrum. They are not just for executives. YouTube has a few videos where a candidate posts the entire test for both WalMart and Target Stores. The question is: Should a job seeker try to “trip the test” and demonstrate a high probability job fit even if it isn’t true?

If the data on the relationship between job-fit and job-failure are accurate (and I believe they are), then jobseekers should making finding a job with a good fit their first priority. Job failure can be damaging to a career as well as one’s self-confidence. A bad fit can stress relationships in the work-environment, which means it is unhealthy physically and psychologically. Further, it may damage a person’s credibility to their network or at least bring potential mixed messages to a future employer who is checking references. Is it really worth it?

Tell me your story: Have you taken psychological tests for a job interview? Please tell me about your experience. mlareau@forwardmotioncareers.com.

Next week I will talk about the application of this information to job seekers and how it can assist their job search.

Related Articles:
Interviewing for Introverts
Jobseeker Hyper Drive
Interview Credibility

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2 Responses to The Science of Hiring, Part 2: Cultural Fit and Productivity

  1. Bob Gately August 8, 2014 at 11:39 AM #

    Hello Dr. Marcia, thank you for the article.

    80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
    80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
    The two 80 percents are closely related.

    Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employees lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack which is often mistaken for poor cultural fit.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent 



    Employers do a… 

    A. GREAT job of hiring competent employees. 

    B. GOOD job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture. 

    C. POOR job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job. 




    Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent

    There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire or manage talent effectively.
    1. How do we define talent?
    2. How do we measure talent?
    3. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
    4. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
    5. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Most managers cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.

    Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.

    Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.

    • Marcia LaReau September 6, 2014 at 4:11 PM #

      Bob,
      Thank you for your lengthy comment.
      The assessments I took were quite comprehensive. They did not use the MBTI, but they did use DISC. We agree that assessments are not indicators of success and I very much appreciate the list of five questions.

      I think we agree that part of the problem is that hiring entities really don’t know what they need or want in a position. That makes it difficult for jobseekers to know how to apply for a particular position.

      Again my thanks for your response.