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12 min read

Why Organizational Fit Should Be a Key Priority in Hiring

If you don’t already consider organizational fit a key part of your recruiting process, now’s the time to start. 

Hiring managers and recruiters tend to focus on how qualified applicants are. You rank candidates based on how much experience they have, past results, relevant skills, preparedness, and willingness to learn. But, what if you find a candidate who checks all the right boxes, but they’re out the door in less than a year? 

That means you missed a box: organizational fit. Even the most qualified candidates can be incompatible with your organization’s values and ways of working. And determining whether or not a candidate fits your company culture is nearly impossible without quantifiable criteria about that culture. 

Organizational fit helps you find qualified candidates who are compatible with your organization’s overall values, competencies, and ways of doing business. So, what does organizational fit mean? In this post, we’ll cover just that, along with some tips on the best ways to hire for organisational fit. 

What is organizational fit?

Organizational fit is a term to describe how well a candidate meshes with your organization. Factors at play here include the candidate’s values and working style, as well as the organization’s overall values. 

A good organizational fit will display a set of values and beliefs compatible with those of the overall organization. The organizational fit definition really comes down to whether or not the candidate and the company are compatible in their way of doing work. 

Why is organizational fit important?

When a candidate snags a job at a company that shares their professional values, they’re more likely to be content and productive in their position. Happier employees who feel at home in their organization do better work. They’re more likely to go above and beyond for the company, which is ultimately good for the bottom line. 

Onboarding is simpler and easier when the candidate is a good organizational fit. With less friction, they slip right into the way your organization gets work done. Plus, they’re more likely to stay in the role longer. That means less employee turnover and a shorter time-to-productivity. 

What is hiring for organizational fit?

Utilizing organizational fit as a hiring method emphasizes the importance of a potential candidate’s personality and values instead of basing decisions purely on their qualifications. Instead of just hiring a qualified candidate, this method ensures you’ll hire a qualified candidate who will mesh well with your company’s way of doing business. 

Person-job fit vs cultural fit – what’s the difference?

Hiring a “culture fit” means hiring someone you predict will get along well with your team. The issue here is that what defines “company culture” can be pretty vague and can potentially open the door for unconscious bias

Alternatively, a person-job fit ranks candidates based on concrete, reliable competencies that predict potential job success. Additionally, the term person-job fit zeros in on the requirements of the specific role up for grabs. That includes the concrete skills required to do the job, as well as the talents that may make up your company culture (think innovation, teamwork, collaboration, etc.). 

That means that hiring for a job fit based on skill and talent competencies produces hires that fit in with the team’s values and have the concrete skills to succeed in their role. 

The benefits of hiring on organizational fit

Increases your employee engagement

When you hire candidates that mesh well with your organization, they’re more likely to be happy in their role. Candidates that share your organization’s values also tend to be more engaged.

A high employee engagement rate benefits your organization overall. 71% of executives say that employee engagement is critical to their company’s overall success. Companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable than their low-engagement counterparts. 

Organizational fits take less time to become operational and are often more productive in the long run than candidates who are qualified but don’t quite fit into your organization. That means hiring an organizational fit results in a better quality of hire overall.

The benefits of hiring for organizational fit
The benefits of hiring for organizational fit, according to Smarp

Improves retention rates and save money 

You can hire employees that aren’t an organizational fit, but you can’t keep them. It doesn’t matter how qualified they are — if they feel like they don’t belong in your organization, they won’t be happy, they won’t be productive, and ultimately, they will leave. 

On the flip side, hiring an organizational fit means the candidate will feel at home in their role. They’ll be happier, more productive, and will want to stay longer and grow with your organization. 

You’ll reduce employee turnover this way, saving money in the process. 

It doesn’t matter how qualified they are — if they feel like they don’t belong in your organization, they won’t be happy, they won’t be productive, and ultimately, they will leave.

Results in better referrals 

The more you focus on hiring for organizational fit, the more in-line your employees will be with your company values. It’ll help you build a team of employees who get the mission and know exactly what you need out of a new hire. Since they know what makes a good fit, they’re more likely to refer candidates who already meet those criteria. 

[Read more: Stop Trying to Find the Elusive Culture Fit]

The drawbacks of hiring on organizational fit

The drawbacks of hiring for organizational fit
There are some drawbacks to hiring for organizational fit

You risk hiring based on personality

An organizational fit isn’t necessarily someone you want to hang out with. Instead, the term describes a candidate you will work well with. When you prioritize hiring and organizational fit, it’s easy to get sidetracked by a candidate’s personality. How you feel about a candidate’s personality does not necessarily indicate how they will fit into your organization. To avoid this mistake, outline a clear set of evidence-based criteria you can use to look past a candidate’s personality and decipher whether or not they’d fit into your organization.

Potential imposters

Candidates do their homework. It’s possible that people who read up on your organization’s mission and values will present themselves as an organizational fit during the interview process, only to reveal their true colors once they start the job. They aren’t intentionally deceiving you, they’re just trying really hard to get hired.

The best way to avoid this is by using data-driven hiring assessments to find an organizational fit, rather than just relying on intuition during the interview. 

Potential bias

If you hire candidates that share certain characteristics or personality traits, you run the risk of building a homogeneous team. 

The potential for bias when hiring a culture fit is strong. Opting for an organizational fit or job fit instead tends to mitigate some of that risk, but the potential for bias is still present. 

Ultimately, diverse teams make for good business. A team full of different personalities from diverse backgrounds and a team of organizational fits are not mutually exclusive. 

Hiring managers have to be intentional about preventing bias, conscious or unconscious, in their search for an organizational fit. That means looking at the competencies that make up the company culture, rather than personality traits. 

Missing out on organizational add

Hiring an organizational fit will help you build a team that works well together, but when your employees aren’t challenged by differing methods and beliefs, your team misses on perspectives that could help it grow and improve. That’s where the concept of an organizational add comes in. 

An organizational add is a candidate with the competencies your team is striving to acquire. This hiring method is designed to lift your team to new heights. Try to balance organizational fits and organizational adds during the recruiting process. This will help you build a dynamic team that works well together in a way that’s sustainable.

[Read more: Hiring Bias is Hurting Your Recruitment Process]

How to determine organizational fit

An organizational fit is a candidate who shares the same values that dictate how people work and interact within your organization. The first step to measuring organizational fit is getting clear on what your organization’s values actually are. 

Ask your employees and your customers what they believe your brand represents. Collect this data in surveys or hold interviews. Combined, the feedback you receive should give you an idea of the current state of your organization’s culture. 

Now it’s time to gather trends from that feedback. If the same descriptors pop up multiple times, mark them down. You can compile these descriptors into a list and use that for creating an organizational fit definition. Use these criteria to inform your recruiting process. 

How to assess organizational fit

After you’ve outlined how to measure organizational fit for your company, it’s time to assess organizational fit in the hiring process. Here are some of the best ways to accomplish that:

Hiring assessments 

Hiring assessments are the most clear-cut way to identify an organizational fit in the hiring process. There are a variety of hiring assessments that accomplish this goal, but the main two Vervoe recommends are values-based assessments and situational assessments.

Using a digital hiring skills assessment allows you to whittle down your candidates to a pool of potential organizational fits. This streamlines the rest of the hiring process. The assessments do the heavy lifting for you — all you have to do in the interview process is figure out which organizational fit is the best organizational fit. 

Situational judgment tests

Situational judgment tests predict how potential employees will work within your organization. Hiring managers can assess a candidate’s theoretical actions and decide whether or not they align with the pre-defined organizational fit criteria. 

Trial in the office

Want to see how your candidate will act in the office? Bring them into the office. This is a great way to assess how your candidate interacts with the team. 

They’ll get a feel for how comfortable they are in your office, and you’ll get valuable insights from your team regarding whether or not they believe they’d work well with the candidate. 

Take them out to lunch

To really get an idea of your candidate’s values, take them on an informal team lunch outside the office. Breaking through the rigid formality of the interview process will help you see through the pre-planned front most candidates present during an interview. You’ll be able to see how they interact with your team out in the real world. 

How they engage with their potential coworkers in an informal setting can reveal a lot about how they fit your criteria. If you’re looking for a candidate who chooses collaboration first, someone who keeps to themselves at a team lunch might not be the best fit. A candidate who displays difficulty with decision-making might not turn out to be a self-sufficient employee. 

These are valuable observations you can only make by taking candidates out of the conventional recruitment setting and watching their interactions in a less formal one.

Gather team input

Don’t sleep on input from your team. After all, they embody the values you’re searching for. Chances are, they will feel whether or not a candidate is a good organizational fit after a few good interactions. 

Start by sending out an anonymous survey requesting feedback. That way, you can get honest insights without worrying about peer pressure swaying the results. Next, gather your team and have a chat about the decision. Examine the pros and cons of the candidate and ask your team members to quantify how the candidate did or didn’t fit into the organization. 

Be extra careful not to let personal biases lead this conversation. Make sure your team knows what is meant by organizational fit going into the recruitment process, then ask them to support their opinions with organizational fit examples informed by that criteria. 

Check references

Finally, don’t forget to check their references. A candidate’s previous employer will be deeply familiar with their work values. You can ask about how they performed in specific situations, how they solved problems, and how they interacted with their team members on a regular basis. This feedback will help you confirm that the insights you’ve gathered about the candidate’s behavior reflect how they will act outside of the recruitment process. 

[Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Diversity Hiring]

Wrapping up

Considering organizational fit might add a few extra steps to your recruitment process, but they’re well worth the added time and effort. When you hire based on organizational fit, you get better quality hires that blend seamlessly into your organization. Plus, they’re likely to stick around for a while, which means you won’t have to look for a replacement anytime soon. 

If you’re ready to implement organizational fit into your recruitment process, you can do so a little easier by using Vervoe’s organizational fit assessments. You’ll get science-backed results that can be compared easily in our user-friendly recruitment program. Organize a demo today.

Martha Kendall Custard

Martha Kendall Custard

Martha Kendall is a freelance B2B SaaS writer who loves creating strategic blog posts that drive traffic and convert. With over 7 years of experience, Martha crafts strategic blog posts infused with creativity and data-driven insights to captivate audiences and drive results. Her expertise extends to SEO-optimized content, social media management, and market research, honed through internships at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and MealFit. Beyond her professional pursuits, Martha's background in academic research and commitment to tutoring ESOL students underscore her dedication to excellence. Clients benefit from Martha's collaborative approach and unique blend of storytelling, creativity, and data analysis, ensuring each piece of content resonates deeply with target audiences. When she’s not writing about SaaS topics, you can find her petting fluffy cats and reading good books.

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