Hiring always is about selecting the right person with the knowledge, skills and ability to perform the job. However, not all hires are successful and a major reason is the new employee is not a good fit for the organization or the job.

In fact, the costs of hiring the wrong person can be high, not only financially but in the time it takes to begin and complete the recruitment cycle again.

Fit is when there is a high degree of compatibility between the employee’s values and abilities and the job requirements and employer’s values. It is important that any person recruited into an organization can function effectively within its culture.

There are many ways to assess job fit and Kimberly Nei, a research consultant with Tulsa, OK-based Hogan Assessment Systems, has produced new research focusing on two of the most important assessments: person-to-job (PJ) fit and person-to-organization (PO) fit. She presented her findings at this year’s annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Her research is about using values to assess job candidates and their fit to the job and organization. “Values are the root of a person’s personality and behavior. When the values of the organization, the job, and the candidate align, then positive outcomes are likely, including reduced turnover and increased job satisfaction, commitment to the organization and performance,” she said.

Much can be learned about an applicant’s values during an interview, but it requires a skilled interviewer who knows the organization’s values as well as the desired characteristics, behaviors and competencies needed to perform the job. Too often, interviewers look at qualities not necessarily related to the actual performance of the job, such as appearance, likeability and how applicants handle themselves in the interview. When this occurs, their opinions of the applicant are not competency-related, but rather peripheral to the job.

“Unless the hiring manager is a specially trained behavioral interviewer and is able to determine an applicant’s values, it is unlikely the interviewer will gain any good information about the candidate’s ability to perform the job and fit into the organization,” Nei said.

The basis of training is a behavior-rating scale and using that scale has been useful in the accuracy of the assessment. “We can identify differences between low-level and high-level value congruence,” Nei noted.

Individuals with a mismatch between their own values and the values of the job or the organization likely will experience a lack of motivation and an inability to adapt to their work environment, she explained.

“Specific training can improve the ability to identify values during the interview process that are used to determine both organization and job fit,” she said.

Nei found that people who received a combination of person-to-job fit and person-to organization fit training were better able to detect the values of applicants than those who were given training in only one area.

She says if interviewers dig deeper during the interview to determine a person’s core values, they more likely can determine whether a person is going to be a good fit for both the job and the organization.

However, Nei conceded the accuracy of value congruence can be influenced by the experience and social skills of applicants.

Participants in the study found it more difficult to assess values when applicants were more experienced and had high social skills, especially those interviewers who received only person-to-job fit training.

“They seemed distracted by those with higher experience and social skills,” she said. She argued values assessments may be more accurate, but training like this can be useful for organizations adamant about using the interview to assess value congruence.

The research also found that people appear better at identifying applicants with a lack of values than a presence of values, a finding that led Nei to suggest it may be better to focus training on identifying and screening out individuals whose values are rated lower on the scale.

Nei added organizations interviewing applicants for fit should consider using a screen-out approach in identifying factors that could disqualify a candidate, rather than a screen-in approach which looks for the most desirable characteristics, which is what most interviewers use.