Hiring by Organizational Fit

The Prevailing Organizational Culture

Recruiting new employees involves being mindful to the predominant organizational culture and how the applicant will relate and interact with the current employees (Cable & Judge, 1997; Fallon & McConnell, 2007). For instance, in a highly team-structured, or cooperative, environment, a highly competitive applicant may find difficulty in overall acceptance by the team, and both the applicant’s job performance and that of the team may suffer (Chatman, 1989). However, when the organizational values match that of the applicant’s, then a prediction can be made that job satisfaction and organizational commitment will be higher (Cable & Judge, 1997; Tsai, Chi, & Huang, 2011; Vandenberghe, 1999).

This paper will discuss organizational culture and the benefits and drawbacks of recruiting processes focused on maintaining or altering the status quo.

Recruiting Organizational Culture

The term organizational culture has been used since the early 1980’s to capture the perceptions, values, behavioral norms, and expectations inherent in an organization (Vandenberghe, 1999). This culture could be a result of certain pressure from the leadership or a natural environmental attainment; however, hiring practices certainly have an impact on the organizational culture by adding the influences of new personalities into the culture (Cable & Judge, 1997; Chatman, 1989; Tsai, Chi, & Huang, 2011; Vandenberghe, 1999). Recruiters and managers, by hiring based on organizational fit, are able to exert influence over the direction of the organizational culture as well as help to limit turnover and attrition (Cable & Judge, 1997; Chatman, 1989; Christensen & Wright, 2011; Tsai, Chi, & Huang, 2011; Vandenberghe, 1999).

One problem surrounding the use of organizational fit is the propensity of applicants to utilize influence tactics to alter the perceptions of the interviewer (Higgins & Judge, 2004). As Fallon and McConnell (2007) discuss, an inexperienced interviewer could be overly influenced by an applicant. “No one has yet devised a reliable way to separate the applicants who simply talk a good job from those who will later do a good job” (Fallon & McConnell, 2007, p. 179). A very charismatic applicant might benefit over a more qualified applicant.

The benefits, however, of considering organizational fit and value congruency between applicants and the organization are best appreciated after job fit, or the consideration of qualifications and experience, is determined. In a hiring process where applicant qualifications and experiences have already been vetted and references already checked, organizational fit can be used to further the success of both the organization and the applicant (Christensen & Wright, 2011; Tsai, Chi, & Huang, 2011).

Another benefit considering organizational fit is public service motivation. Christensen and Wright (2011) explore the relationship between applicants who have strong motivations towards public service and organizations, whether public or private, that share that motivation. Christensen and Wright show a result of increased job satisfaction when public service motivations are congruent between applicant and organization; however, this link appears fairly weak when compared to financial incentives.

Relying on Résumés and Portfolios

While most assessments of organizational fit are made in the interview environment, résumé contents offer useful information. Although Higgins and Judge (2004) regarded self-promotion tactics (résumés and portfolios) as “weak and nonsignificant” (p. 630), ergo, less powerful than personal influence tactics, Tsai, Chi, and Huang (2011) later show that specific pertinent résumé content improved perceptions of employability: “to select applicants with suitable attributes, recruiters would refer to specific résumé content as the basis for making inferences about applicants’ values or personality” (p. 236). Work experience and extracurricular activities, according to Tsai, Chi, and Huang, provide the most insight into an applicant’s values and personality, which would influence organizational fit.

One drawback to relying on a document, such as a résumé or a portfolio, to provide insight into an applicant’s values or personality is that often these documents are prepared by a third party whose personality and values might influence the choice of content, thereby influencing the reader.

Legal and Regulatory Implications

Fallon and McConnell (2007) readily discuss the legal requirements and implications of the hiring process and making judgments of the applicant that are not directly related to the job; however, if intangible traits can be related to improved job performance, it is recommended to probe for these after ensuring adequate qualification and experience. In order to show that these intangible traits (e.g. innovation, team orientation, stability, attention to detail) are relevant, the job description could be altered in effect to demonstrate this and limit legal implications of a subjective hiring process. Certain prohibitions will still stand, such as disability, race, color, creed, religion, et al.


By understanding the culture of their organization, managers and recruiters can, to a degree, help to shift the cultural paradigm by choosing applicants who share similar values and beliefs that would be believed to enhance the culture of the organization. Although each job requires an applicant with the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job, certain intangibles, including congruence with the prevailing organizational culture, will help to ensure a healthy and lasting employment relationship.


Cable, D. M. & Judge, T. A. (1997). Interviewers’ perceptions of person – Organization fit and organizational selection decisions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82(4), 546-561. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.82.4.546

Chatman, J. A. (1989). Improving interactional organizational research: a model of person-organization fit. Academy of Management Review, 14(3), 333-349. doi:10.5465/AMR.1989.4279063

Christensen, R. K. & Wright, B. E. (2011). The effects of public service motivation on job choice decisions: Exploring the contributions of person-organization fit and person-job fit. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 60(2), 231–254. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.2010.00434.x

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Higgins, C. A. & Judge, T. A. (2004). The effect of applicant influence tactics on recruiter perceptions of fit and hiring recommendations: a field study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(4), 622-632. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.89.4.622

Tsai, W., Chi, N., & Huang, T. (2011). The effects of applicant résumé contents on recruiters’ hiring recommendations: The mediating roles of recruiter fit perceptions. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 60(2), 231–254. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.2010.00434.x

Vandenberghe, C. (1999). Organizational culture, person-culture fit, and turnover: a replication in the health care industry. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 20(2), 175-184. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(199903)20:2<175::AID-JOB882>3.0.CO;2-E