July 24th 2014

The Importance of Person-Organization Fit in Hiring

A survey1 conducted with the help of LinkedIn HR shows that employee commitment to the organization and the identification of talented individuals are two of the greatest concerns for HR specialists today. These results are not particularly surprising, given that commitment to an employer affects a number of important variables at the individual level, such as the intention to stay, absenteeism and job satisfaction, as well as at the organizational level, in terms of profits, stock market value and sales figures2. Finding and identifying talent is just as important, when one considers how the global demand for talent is on the rise while high-potential candidate pools in Western countries are shrinking. As well, the retention of skilled employees is challenging, as they manage their careers very aggressively nowadays, but the compatibility between the person and the organization, or P-O Fit, makes it possible to predict a candidate’s level of commitment and forms the basis for the characteristics used to qualify an employee as “talent.”3

P-O Fit is a measurement of the compatibility between the characteristics of an individual and those of an organization4, based on a number of theoretical foundations5. The dimensions, or components, of P-O Fit differ from one author to the next6(expectations, needs, personality, objectives, interests and beliefs), but there appears to be a consensus for placing values at the heart of this concept. It is important to specify here that the term “value” refers primarily to organizational values, which represent the means and the ends that are most important to the organization. In other words, organizational values are lasting preferences that guide organizations in the hundreds of decisions that they make at every level7.
In practice, measuring P-O Fit consists of using a test like the OVT to compare a person’s primary values to those of the organization (generally established by upper management), thus obtaining an index of similarity ranging from 0 (very different) to 100 (identical). Numerous studies9 have shown that person-organization fit makes it possible to partially predict employees’ attitudes (commitment to the organization, job satisfaction and intention to stay) and behaviour (performance and corporate citizenship) in the workplace. Yet these same studies also lead to the conclusion that P-O Fit is slightly better at predicting specifically attitude-related criteria and that it provides the most valid measurement in value-related dimensions. Moreover, it is clear that its contribution in terms of predictive validity and incremental validity, beyond the results obtained by cognitive skills testing, for example, are enough to justify its incorporation into the hiring and performance evaluation processes.
To summarize, this concept has led to the development of assessment tools that provide useful information to complement the data already available to human resources specialists. This information may be used for a variety of purposes, such as affecting the fundamental level of commitment to the organization or helping identify high-potential individuals, regardless of their origin.

By Philippe Longpré

1 C. Wildermuth (2011), LinkedIn HR Research Report: “HR Concerns in 2011,” March 2011
2 K. Tyler (2011) and Kristoff-Brown, Zimmerman & Johnson (2005)
3 Robinson, Fetters, Rieters & Bracco (2009)
4 Kristoff-Brown & al. (2005)
5 D Morin (2007)
6 Arthur & al. (2006); Hofman & Woehr (2006); Kristof-Brown & al. (2005); and Verquer & al. (2003)