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Hiring For Fit

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins says companies need to get the right people in the right seat on the bus. In other words, get people in positions for which they are a good fit. Often, people mistake a great employee for being highly experienced and/or possessing strong skills or education. Indeed, those attributes do help an employee be successful. However, there are three things that most determine job success:

  1. Appropriate cognitive ability

  2. Behavioral match for the activities and environment

  3. Cultural fit with the company

Cognitive ability is the highest determiner for success in any job. Think about it (pun intended), if an individual can critically think and solve problems, they can, at least, think their way to completing tasks. This doesn’t mean they won’t be bored or otherwise dissatisfied. But they can do the job. When an individual’s behavioral tendencies match those required of a job, they will enjoy the activities and environment, will be happy coming to work, and be highly engaged. This an employee with a great attitude, job satisfaction, and loyalty. Industrial psychologists created assessments that predict how successful an individual will be in a job. The data are based on research by universities and even the US Department of Labor. They have been used for decades and are very accurate in predicting an individual’s “fit” for a job. Studies show the correlation between job performance and cognitive plus personality fit is .65, or higher. That means it is a powerful predictor of success. To put in context, the correlation between smoking and lung cancer is .08 and ibuprofen and pain relief is .14. When comparing those numbers, it’s hard to ignore how strong cognitive combined with personality fit, predict a successful employee. For over 25 years, I have had great success using assessments to help make good hiring decisions. It’s amazing how accurate they are. Let’s be clear. Assessments are one data point in determining fit. Hiring managers must confirm a candidate’s education and experience, along with evaluating their communication skills and cultural fit with the company. The resume is a good proxy for experience and education. Communication skills and cultural fit are best determined by observing or interacting with the candidate. Phone screens, or video alternatives, can be used to evaluate communication skills. It is my belief that cultural fit is best evaluated with an in-person interview. When a company hires someone, who is a good fit, they can count on higher productivity, higher retention, and satisfied employees. By the way, being a good fit is much better for the employee too. The challenge for most companies is finding enough time and resources to find good fit candidates, while controlling costs and avoiding unintended bias. I cover bias in another blog. eHire Solutions is a virtual hiring platform that assesses cognitive and behavioral fit, then provides a 1-way video to evaluate communication skills. Contact us to learn more.

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