Person Job Fit Versus Person Organization Fit

This report reviews the recent developments of the research on Person-Organization fit (P-O) and Person-Job fit (P-J). These are the two most extensively studied fits in context of employee selection. In this report the concepts of P-O & P-J have been discussed reaching a conclusion that P-J fit is considered important during the earlier stages (screening stage) of selection whereas P-O fit is a necessity in later stages (interviews etc) of selection process of an employee.


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The theory of Person-Environment (PE) assumes that positive responses occur when individuals tend to fit or match the environment. For example, When a good fit exists in between person & environment, PE fit theories of vocational choice propose occurrence of high satisfaction, mental & physical well-being when there is good fit (Dawis & Lofquist, 1984; Holland, 1997). Extensive research supports the proposition that individuals are satisfied with and adjust most easily to jobs that are congruent with their own career-relevant personality types.

PE-fit is conceptualized as a general term, under which fall more specific notions of fit. In the recruitment and selection domain, two common forms of fit identified are

Person-Job Fit

This is a match between an individual & requirements of a specific job. Companies often pursue that person-job fit so as to match the applicant’s knowledge and skills to the requirements of specific job openings and focus on an applicant’s ability to perform right away without any training.

Person-Organization Fit

This is match between an individual & broader organizational attributes.

Companies while pursuing P-O fit focus on how well individuals fit with values of their company & culture. They tend to emphasis on hiring people with an ability to work & co-operate with other employees in the company.

Person-Job fit Conceptualization

The concept of person-job fit is the traditional foundation for employee selection (Werbel & Gilliland, 1999). The primary concern was limited to finding applicants with the right skills & abilities for a available job in the organization. PJ fit is conceptualized as the match between individual knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) and demands of the job or the needs/desires of an individual and what is provided by the job (Edwards, 1991; O’Reilly, Chatman, & Caldwell, 1991). Based on realistic job previews, accurate and realistic job information enables applicants to assess the degree of congruence between their KSA and the job requirements (i.e. PJ fit; Breaugh, 1992; Breaugh & Starke, 2000). Applicants who perceive a fit between their KSA and the job requirements are probable to remain in the selection process and accept a job offer. RJP research has shown that accurate and realistic job information during recruitment and selection is associated with positive work outcomes (e.g. low attrition from recruitment process, high job satisfaction, low voluntary turnover, high work performance). From its very simple inception evolving out of scientific management , the P-J Fit determination process increasingly gained sophistication with identification of both statistically reliable & valid processes that can be used to measure P-J fit.

Operationalizations of P-J Fit

The operational aspect of P-J Fit focuses on needs-supplies and demand-abilities perspective (Edwards, 1991). Therefore, P-J fit can be defined as the fit between desires of a person vs attributes of a job OR abilities of a person vs demands of a job. This needs-supplies and demand-abilities fit are extended conceptualizations of complementary fit. Supplementary fit does not apply to P-J fit as it is concerned to the person only & not the job. In employee selection practices, strategies used to assess P-J fit include tests, reference checks, resumes & a variety of other selection tools (Werbel & Gulliland, 1999).

Outcomes of P-J Fit

Employee selection process in most organization has traditionally focused on achieving P-J Fit (Werbel & Gulliland, 1999). Another contributor establishing P-J fit is job design strategy backed by organization entry (Brosseau, 1984).

Considerable evidences show that a high level of P-J fit has positive outcomes. P-J fit literature by Edwards (1991) identified low stress in job, attendance, retention, performance and job satisfaction are outcomes positively affected by P-J fit. Researchers demonstrated that structured & validated procedures for determining P-J fit have led to more effective selection of employees when compared to unstructured techniques

Person-Organisation Fit Conceptualization

P-O fit can be defined as compatibility between people & organizations (Kristof, 1996). With regards to employee selection research, P-O fit can be conceptualized as the match between an applicant & boarder organizational attributes. The key to maintain the flexible & committed work force, which is necessary in a competitive and tight labor market, is P-O fit.

The P-O fit research can be traced back to Schneider’s (1987) ASA framework (Attraction-Selection-Attrition). As per Schneider, persons are always on the look out for situations attractive to them rather than fit any assigned situation. Schneider argued that an organization can be considered as a situation, which implies that people can be attracted to it, be selected to be a part of it, remain if they have good P-O fit or leave the organization incase there is no good fit.

Operationalizations OF P-O fit

There has been an ongoing debate regarding the operationalizations of the P-O construct.

Kristof (1996) review of P-O fit literature identified four operationalizations of P-O fit.

Measuring the similarity between basic characteristics of people and organizations. The way to measure this to check the congruence between individual & organizational values

Goal congruence with organizational leaders

Match between individual preferences or needs & organizational structures and systems. This operationalization of P-O fit reflect the need-supplies fit curve.

Match between individual characteristics of individual personality & organizational climate or organizational personality. Organizational Climate is often operationalized in terms of supplies such as rewards systems or communication formats. This point takes into account both the supplementary & need-supplies fit perspectives.

Outcomes Of PO Fit

According to Schneider’s ASA framework, the attraction between persons & organizations are based on their similarity. This affect the job choice approach of a applicant & hiring decisions in organizations. Empirical evidence supports the fact that both applicant job-choice behavior & organization’s hiring practices are antecedents of P-O Fit. From the entry point, individuals & organization socializations practice contributes to P-O fit. Empirical evidences support fact (Chatman, 1991)

High level of this fit can be related to positive outcomes. P-O fit can be tied to job satisfaction & organization commitment

This fit could predict intention of quit & turnover (Chatman, 1991 ; O’Reilly et al., 1991) and was also related to citizenship behaviours (O’Reilly & Chatman, 1986), contextual performance and self reported teamwork.

High level of P-O fit may have positive or negative organizational level outcomes (Schneider, 1987).

Relationship between P-O fit & P-J Fit

P-O fit & P-J fit are distinct constructs conceptually. Many researchers have reported have reported low correlations between actual PO Fit an P-J fit (O’Reilly et al., 1991 ; Higgins, 2000) and perceived P-O fit & P-J fit(Kristof-Brown, 2001). Factor analysis proved that the job applicants and recruiters could identify or distinguish P-O & P-J fit ( Kristof-Brown, 2000). Kristof Brown (2000) came to a conclusion recruiters’ perceived P-O & P-J were different in terms of antecedents & they offered unique prediction of employer’s hiring recommendations.

Lauver Kristof -Brown (2001) found that employees’ P-O fit could predict his intention to quit & performance than the P-J fit. Both these fits directly affected new employees’ outpu including stress, job satisfaction & turnover. P-J had the most impact on work attitudes followed by P-O fit. —-

P-O fit & P-J In Employee Selection

Employee selection can divided into two different approaches : prescriptive & descriptive. The prescriptive type of approach aim at points what managers should do in getting the right candidate. This approach usually focuses on the criteria-related valuation of the main concept as the predictor domain. The descriptive approach concentrates on the part what managers actually do in their selection procedures. They describe how the focal concept works out in the actual process. Prescriptive & Descriptive approaches for P-O & P-J fit in selection process can be summarized as follows.

Prescriptive Approach In Selection

Traditionally, the selection process was bend on achieving P-J fit (e.g American organizations). Both practitioners & researchers suggested that P-J fit is becoming less important when compared to others fits. The challenges they faced from P-J fit were the extended criterion domain & predictor factor (Werbel & Gilliland, 1999). Borman & Motwildo (1993) were of the opinion that selection of a candidate should be associated with organization effectiveness. Distinguishing task & contextual performance should be done. Researchers identified many similar concepts with regards to contextual performance such as pro-social behavior, extra role behavior & organizational citizenship behavior. Based on these findings, they suggested decisions on hiring needs to go beyond P-J fit, taking into consideration the expanded criterion domain.

The arguments for expanded criterion domain can be summarized as follows. First the

Employers should be aware that the hired employees will hold multiple tasks over the period of his employment. This leads to disagreement with the fact of an employee doing a specific job as mention in P-J fit. Second point to which they stressed was in selection of an applicant by a manager should be based on applicant’s compliance with values & vision of the organization. Third, P-J fit has some ideas of jobs themselves. In an expanded criterion domain, teamwork & flexibility should be taken into consideration while selecting a employee.

With these limitations in P-J fit for employee selection, most practitioner & researchers suggest use of P-O Fit in selection of an employee.

As high levels of P-J & P-O fit leads to positive outcomes such as job satisfaction, performance & organizational commitment, both P-J & P-O should be included in the selection process.

Using P-J fit in the initial selection process & using P-O Fit in the latter or final stages of selection of an employee would be ideal.

Descriptive Approach on Fit in Selection

These days despite the extensive focus on P-J fit for a selection process, many researchers argue that key elements of P-O fit has been included (Chatman, 1989).

One the most used selection method for assessing an applicant is Interviewing. Managers are very keen on conducting them as they feel it to be the best way of selecting candidates who appear to fit to the organization. Prior to interviews, applicants are selected for interview with P-J fit evaluations. During the interview, managers usually focus the applicant’s P-O fit.

Based on theories , researchers always emphasis that P-O fit plays a major role at later stages of employment selection than in the earlier stages (Kristof-Brown, 2000 ). Though the argument is reasonable, we are not sure about the later stages of selection process in a organization. Possibility of weighing P-J fit more than P-O fit by managers should be also taken into consideration.


To conclude, as high levels of P-J & P-O fit leads to positive outcomes such as job satisfaction, performance & organizational commitment, both P-J fit & P-O fit elements should be included in the selection process of an employee.

Considering P-J fit during the earlier or initial stages of selection & measuring the P-O fit during the later stages of selection process of an employee would be ideal.

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