If a company is not applying job fit to every position they’re posting, they risk accepting hiring ill-fitting candidates. Personality impacts everything on the job--from how they collect and observe information, their clothing choice, their relationship with colleagues, and what aspects of a job they’d enjoy (or hate). Personality doesn’t stop a single person An organization, a team, or the job itself can have a personality of its own. That’s why more and more companies, from Goldman Sachs to Disney, are assessing individual personality for job fit. We’ve saved one customer, HappyCar, over 70% in time-to-hire for their recruitment team by delving into the personality of candidates.

Personality makes a huge impact on the work life of an individual and a team. If a hiring manager decides to contract a more intuitive personality, they may be more comfortable working from home. Intuitive types are 52% more likely to be self-employed, for example. “Go-getter” personality would turn unmotivated if they were told to execute the status quo repeatedly. Differences in personality can be a competitive advantage. Learning about the personality of job candidates can bring the biggest impact. 

What does it mean understanding "personality for job fit"?

hiring for job fit

 

Personality

Personality represents a person’s coherent pattern of behavior, cognition, and desires (goals) over time. It integrates the feelings, actions, and attitudes. It may be confused with emotion or a temporal state of being. Personality is to emotion as climate is to weather. What one expects at any time is personality, what one observes at any particular moment is emotion. The Big Five Personality Trait Model demonstrates there are five major dimensions of personality:

Conscientiousness
The extent to which someone is organized, works hard, stays on task, and perseveres to finish the job.

Introversion/Extraversion
The extent to which someone is outgoing, assertive, friendly, and active.

Agreeableness 
The extent to which someone is cooperative, trusting, polite, and compassionate.

Neuroticism
The extent to which someone worries, and is irritable, or easily stressed. The opposite of this trait is often called Emotional Stability.

Openness 
The extent to which someone is curious, imaginative, flexible, and interested in trying new things.

Organizations turn to the Big Five Personality Model (also known as O.C.E.A.N.), to assist them in understanding employee behavior. For example, conscientiousness is the greatest predictor of how well someone will perform. This finding is consistent across a large number of research studies. 

Personality is a relatively stable set of characteristics that influence an individual's behavior. HR managers must be able to identify individual behaviors and traits so that they can understand workers' different personalities. Personalities should be discovered, helping companies and individuals apply their special traits and skills to the right role and ascertain job and cultural fit.

hiring for job fit

Definition of Personality-Job Fit

Personality-job fit theory (PJ Fit) revolves around the idea that every organization and individual has specific personality traits. The closer the traits between the person and the business match, the higher the likelihood of workplace productivity and satisfaction. The best personality fit will also decrease job turnover and stress, absenteeism, and poor job satisfaction. Personality-job fit theory shows the match between an employee’s abilities, needs, and values and organizational demands, rewards, and values.

Calculating the Personality-Job Fit 

The PJ Fit can be readily calculated for a good fit. A hiring manager can outline specific, sought-after characteristics, like skills and traits. Then compare those to the work itself and the job’s environmental specifics. If there is a difference, this is called a “discrepancy”. This discrepancy can then be calculated as an index to measure how much of a difference exists. If the difference is sizable, the likelihood that stress will occur, both on the worker and possibly the organization. A hiring manager can then determine whether these discrepancies will make a negative impact or whether some variables can be changed. 

How Personality and Job Fit Into the Greater Picture

Personality has a direct impact on each level of the company, from employee, their team, and up to the entire culture:

-Organization Level
-Group Level
-Individual Level

 

Organization Level

A company is a social unit of people, practices, and are meant to be working together to pursue a set of goals. Organizations are open systems that each have their own set of functions, positions, and team members. By delegating tasks and responsibilities, the organization can carry out executing their team-level goals to company-wide goals. It’s no secret an organization's processes are largely influenced by their employees. By focusing on the employee or applicant, a hiring manager is able to either greatly enable or disable these organizational processes.

Group Level

One person’s perception or motivation can make a ripple effect on how they make others think, feel, or prioritize tasks around them. John Dunne might as well have been talking about job fit and the workplace when he wrote, “No man is an island”. The modern workplace tends to need collaboration to some degree or another. If two people or more are working together on a task, this is “group level” work. Individual personality differences can make a huge impact on how quickly and effectively a job is completed. It also makes an impact on how others feel around the work they’re being asked to execute. Everyone remembers small group projects at school: weren’t you terrified of being stuck with the kid who did absolutely nothing to contribute? Or being grouped with the control freak who did not allow anyone to voice their own thoughts? Focusing on the group level within an organization begins to show why identifying personality is so fundamental.  

Individual Level

Nearly every organization has a mission, expressed through its objectives, culture, and/or goals. Employees are meant to buttress and move these goals forward. Their specific talents and energies can contribute to how effectively and authentically these achievements can be reached. However if mission, vision, and goals are misaligned between the individual and organization, it’s probably the most ineffective way to accomplish anything. What’s the formula to figure out if an individual has the will to succeed and stay in a position? A study recently published in the Academy of Management Annals analyzed all of the research into the field so far, with the aim of finding out. Their study found pointed to understanding the individual’s personality. Their data found that a job fit triad of conscientiousness, emotional stability and agreeableness were the best recipe for success.

Concept of Person-Job Fit

Hiring managers are looking for candiate’s that do not simply “rank and file”; they’re looking for people that can be flexible and creative in the face of changing times. A proper job fit recognizes the requirements the job demands but is also moderated by the relationship between personality characteristics and job performance. In other words, matching the job requirements with personality characteristics. The Person-Job Fit theory is based on the concept that individual personality characteristics should/can fit into an occupational environment. When personalities fit into their job and their environment, they are more likely to have a higher degree of job satisfaction. For one, neuroticism is a moderate predictor of job-satisfaction that contributes to stability in job satisfaction.

Personality-Job Fit as a Strategy

Analyzing both candidates and employees for PJ fit is part of strategic planning. It can help provide a more detailed analysis for managers and employees about the tasks and responsibilities involved. Functions, duties, tools and even equipment needed can all be better planned to enable a successful hiring. For employees who thrive off of interacting with colleagues, their desk should be right in the middle of the action, instead of ensconced somewhere in a back office. It could also be segway into talking about neurodiversity. Personality is a function of biology and environment. With personality openly discussed, neurodivergent employees may feel more comfortable asking for what they need to succeed. 

PJ fit also provides hiring managers the tools to prepare effective training programs. By better understanding the needs of their teams, managers are able to create tailored content and effectively plan how they can train or motivate certain team members. Extroverted employees are often motivated by external means, like recognition or a monetary bonus. Their more introverted colleagues may appreciate winning tickets to a noted lecturer or an introvert retreat (yes, that’s a thing!). By analyzing needs, managers will be able to figure out ways to support employees in their output. To successfully plan for the future, the person-job fit can also serves as a basis in creating company-wide strategies and policies or planning out the talent pipeline. 

The person-job fit analysis assists in answering the question on every manager’s mind: “Is this person competent enough to perform this job successfully?”

With PJ Fit, a hiring manager is able to perceive four essential parts of an applicant:

Skills and abilities:

This is the individual's capacity to perform various tasks in a job. Hiring managers will want to know whether they’re mentally capable of executing the job. Personality also may reveal insight into the specific types of intelligence a candidate possesses: cognitive, social, emotional, and cultural intelligence. 

Perception

Perception is the process of gathering, selecting, and interpreting information. This can be about how we view ourselves, the world,  a company, or our team mates. Through the lens of personality, a hiring manager can become more cognizant of how someone who scores high on neuroticism may view the world, or their work. With follow-up questions with a candidate, a hiring manager can build a more holistic view.

Attitudes

Attitudes are comprised of feelings, beliefs, and behaviors. One important work-related attitude is job satisfaction, the general attitude they have towards their work. A manager wants to know how a candidate will approach a problem or view creativity and teamwork. Job satisfaction is related to five factors: promotion opportunities, their boss, the pay, the work itself, and their relationships with coworkers. A person’s personality will show what they value and they'll be related to these five factors. An extroverted employee may be motivated by an end-of-the-year bonus; or a highly agreeable person won't be well-suited to a company culture that “plays hard ball”. Understanding attitudes is a more personal way to see how a candidate succeed. 

Values/ethics 

Values are beliefs we hold about what is important, worthwhile, and desirable. An employee’s value system is how they organize and prioritize values. Often it’s our values that generally influence our attitudes and behavior. Hiring managers may want to know what a person values: creativity or competition, or autonomy or close collaboration. Values can also open the discussion to ethics, in learning how a candidate thinks an action or situation is right or wrong. This information can be incredibly value when making the best fit for hire.

Possible Action Items
  • Have employees complete a job analysis questionnaire--or better--shameless plug: an AI-powered Big 5 personality assessment that hiring managers receive within minutes.
  • Interview employees, asking them specific questions about their job duties and responsibilities.
  • Obtain log sheets from team members with information about each of their tasks and the time spent on each task for at least one full work week.
  • Complete desk audits where you observe individual team members performing their jobs at different times of the day and days of the week and track what they do and for how long.
  • Interview supervisors and managers, and other employees, clients and customers the employee interacts with while performing the job.
  • Compare the job to other jobs in the department as well as the job grade or job family to show where it falls on the pay scale.
  • If there is more than one person doing the same job, observe them and ask for feedback. 

Personality touches on everything a company does-- how they interact with customers (sales and social media), to how quickly the technical product is fixed (engineering team). By implementing a personality assessment, companies increase their time savings while upping the quality of their hires. In an increasingly competitive world, unlocking employee personality is one smart strategy. 

Companies, like BMW, leverage Retorio's AI to support their own talent management teams. Our video-based AI was featured in TechCrunch and Süddeutsche Zeitung .

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Elizabeth T.

Written by Elizabeth T.

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