Unpacking “Fit” – The Secret Ingredient of Hiring Success!

Unpacking “Fit” – The Secret Ingredient of Hiring Success!

by Sara Bennett | February 2, 2021

0 Author-Jeanne, Blog, Hiring.Best Practices, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Recruiting. Best Practices, Temp-to-Hire. Best Practices


Assessing “Fit” – What?  Why?  How?

It goes without saying that when it comes to recruiting, placement, and just plain old staffing,  finding the “fit” between jobs and candidates is our favorite thing to do.  Assessing “fit” is a component of our service model that we know makes a big difference to both employers and job seekers.   Employees who are the “right fit”, will  outperform their equally talented but less well matched colleagues, as much as two to one.  They stay on the job longer, they are more productive, they are better contributors to the morale of a team.  Employees who are working in jobs that are the “right fit” for them are happier employees;  they stay in those jobs longer, avoiding the hassle of having to change jobs every few years (or months) to pursue that elusive “something better.”

Finding the “right fit” creates a win for both employers and employees, but the hiring processes designed to assess “fit” are anything but simple.    

At PACE, for example, we assess a candidate’s “fit” for a job on 4 levels:


JOB FIT –  is the “fit” between the employee’s skills, work preferences and strengths and the actual work content – what the employee actually does on a day to day basis.  What skills and talents are required to do it well.


COMPANY FIT – references the “fit” between what an employee values and what their employer does for a living – the products or services they make or deliver.   The “fit”  happens when what an employee sees as important or valuable, lines up with what a company does or how it conducts itself as an organization.


TEAM FIT – describes the  “fit” between how an employee likes to get work done and how the team works together.  In other word it represents the “fit” between how an employee and their team views “teamwork”.


MOTIVATIONAL FIT – which ends up being the “fit” between what an employee hopes to achieve or benefit from their work and what the job, the company, or their team is able to deliver.


Even for the PACE team that has spent the last 40 years perfecting its “job to employee? matching methodologies, when you take a closer look at all the factors that go into that infamous “just right fit” it can seem over whelming.  Done right, finding that “just right fit” can make a huge difference in hiring success, benefiting both the employer and their new employee.  Done wrong, it can create all kinds of organizational issues – increased hiring costs, unexpected turnovers, and in worse case serious organizational slumps.

When our marketing materials claim that we help employees find that “just right” job, or help employers hire that “just right” employee, we know the steps involved in making those claims come alive.  “Fit” doesn’t just happen without a whole lot of homework first.  

Assessing the “fit” between the employee and the job is clearly our starting point.

For us, finding that “just right job fit” is like putting the right key in the key lock, or inserting the right puzzle piece in a jig saw puzzle.  The right key unlocks the door;  the right puzzle piece brings pieces of the puzzle together.  Both need to be a particular size, shape, (and sometimes color) to do their job, just like an employee has to have the right knowledge, skills and work experiences to do theirs.

At PACE, we start our assessment of “job fit” by carefully profiling a job’s work requirements against a candidate’s actual skills and work preferences.  It sounds easy, but it often takes several interviews with our employer clients and a job candidate to make sure we are profiling both the job’s requirements and the candidate’s abilities accurately.

On the client side, we will often visit a client’s work site, viewing work as it is being done, or talk to people who have done the job in the past.  We uncover what kind of skills or personal qualities are most directly linked to performance success,, and what, if any,  personal qualities have tended to get in the way.

For candidates, we start our “fit” assessment by exploring what parts of their former jobs they liked the most and what parts they did particularly well.  We ask behaviorally based questions to better understand how they handled certain situations in the past, knowing that what they did in the past is likely what they will do going forward.  Their responses are rated against standardized criteria on components of work that we know to be most important to “fit”.

  • Have their successes come from doing work that analytical and detailed, or have they found a way to shine in environments with less of a focus on precision?
  • Have they worked well in environments were the work was repetitious and exacting, or have they done better in environments where the work was varied and personal judgement came into play?  
  • How have they performed when working in jobs governed by tight deadlines as compared to jobs where they employee set their own pace?  

We know that if we can find a job whose work content is most similar to those components of the work they have done well in the past, and doesn’t have much of the work content they haven’t liked or done well at, we have a good chance of placing the candidate in a job that is a good “fit” for them.

Assessing organizational “fit” can appear to be a simpler process but when it gets down to a “cultural fit” it has its share of complexity.   

Some candidates have very strong personal values and will know exactly if what a company does or how it treats its people, fits their values.  Others have less tightly defined values, and can work for a broad range of employers, even those whose values differ from their own.

Some companies have very strong values that are reflected in either their policies or behavioral norms, and are either not attractive to a certain type of employee or are unable to work with an employee who doesn’t fit their values.  Other companies are much less value driven, and can work with a broad swath of employees with very different values.

A company’s culture is typically defined by things that on the surface reflect their values.  If they are a company who wants their employees to have fun, there is a ping pong table in the lunchroom.  I they place value on keep their employees well paid and secure, there is emphasis on their pay and benefit programs.  If they value achievement their promotional practices are well honed.  If they value learning, they have high provile training or mentorship programs.  Matching what an employee values most about who they work , to what a company is there to offer,  is a very important component of organizational “fit.”

Finding the “fit” between a  candidate and the team they are considering joining ,  is incredibly important, but the processes used to assess this type of fit often has pitfalls.

Assessing the “fit” between a candidate and their future team often takes place during the candidate’s interview with their future boss or co workers. Sometimes these interviews will take an unexpected turn,  and “like” becomes a factor in selecting the employee – valued even more important than “fit.”   What we know is that the difference between “like” and “fit” isn’t always clear, and that even an employee who is well liked, may turn out to be a less than great “fit” for their team.

There are reasons why the “like” factor can get in the way of a successful hire.  First of all selecting for  “fit” requires a lot of homework to uncover how a particular team actually gets work done, different from what team members like to do on the weekends or after work which often is the basis for “like”.

And when it comes to how a team gets work done, how they do teamwork, each team does it differently.

As a general rule, as a team’s work becomes more complex, the more the team must rely on all of its team members to achieve a team result. Individuals who have learned to be individual contributors, even though very likeable as an individual, can often find it challenging to “fit” into a team environment where the team already has an established way of working together. 

Assessing an individual’s ability to work as part of a particular team may also take on some unique twists.   For some “fit” assessments, not only does the employee’s basic work style need to be compatible with how the team works together, but in some cases it has to complement known short comings on a team.  We are often asked to look for an employee whose work style matches up with the team’s way of working together, but can also bring something unique to the team that adds value to the group.

Research has shown that when a team is working well together, there is more engagement, less absenteeism, lowered turnover.  But research also shows that the more diverse the skillsets are on the team, the more effective the team.

When it comes to finding the fit between a particular employee and a particular team, here’s the questions we like to find answers to……

  • How does the team define success? Is it just meeting its goals or exceeding them?  How much alignment is there between the existing team’s aspirations for achievement compared to the ambitions of the employee they want to add to their team?  
  • What kind of rewards does the team bestow on its members – are there opportunities for individual recognition, or is it always the team?
  • How does the team solve problems? Do people work together to solve all issues together, or  does the team expect individuals to solve their own problems?
  • How does the team communicate with one another – formally or informally?
  • How often and in what ways does the team meet together?  

Let’s face it, how some teams do “teamwork” or how they set and meet goals, are not heaven sent for some employees.

The last ingredient of “fit” combines all of the above to ensure a motivational match between what the employee wants to achieve thru their work, and what a particular job, company or team has to offer.

Why does the employee work?  What are they hoping to gain from taking a particular job, going to work for a particular company, or playing a role on a particular team?

  • Is it a chance to be recognized and promoted based on a highly visible form of personal contribution?
  • Do they want to use their job as a way to expand their social circle, or counter balance loneliness? 
  • What are their aspirations for the team?
  • What do they need to be paid in order to feel success?
  • How important are benefits to the employee?  Healthcare care coverage?  PTO? HTO?
  • How important is it for the employee to know their job is secure, not subject to lay off?

Each employee comes to work for a unique set of reasons – which is what we try to capture in what we call their motivational profile.  We don’t just ask them “what do you want” – we look closely at their work history – why they decided to take a job, and why they later elected to leave it.  It tells us miles about their motivational profile.

Our job, as experts in “fit”,  is to make sure we understand the motivations behind each of the candidate’s we represent and make sure that the jobs we present to them can and will deliver what they uneed to achieve.

Finding the right fit between a job and an employee is not easy.  But it is a critical element of job satisfaction for the employee, productivity and lowered turnover for the employer.  Get it right and you’ve created a win win for both parties. Get it wrong, and its likely not going to work for either party.


PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A 4-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact our Partner Services and Solutions team at 425-637-3312, email us or visit our website.

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