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Stronge & Associates: Using Person-Organization Fit in Hiring Decisions

By Xianxuan Xu

Person-organization fit refers to the extent to which an individual’s beliefs and values match those of the organization (Simms 2011). The concept of person-organizational fit has been used in hiring and selection for decades. In the educational field, principals tend to make hiring decisions based on perceptions of organizational fit of applicants, and they believe it is an important attribute to look for in making their selection (Cranston 2012). However, researchers disagree on whether organizational fit is an effective criterion for assessing the quality of candidates. Advantages in considering organizational fit Organizational fit has both advantages and disadvantages as a factor in hiring and selection. Research finds that interviewers’ perceptions of person-organization fit is a predictor of applicants’ future job satisfaction and intent to renew a job contract (Sims 2011). Additionally, organizational fit has been found to be predictive of decreased job stress, stronger organizational commitment, adjustment to the environment, pro-social behaviors, and retention (Cranston 2012; Ingle, Rutledge, & Bishop 2011). To maximize its value, it should be clearly defined and operationalized. Disadvantages in considering organizational fit In terms of disadvantages, the assessment of person-organization fit is mostly a subjective process wherein the interviewers determine applicant fit based on their own idiosyncratic past choices, interests, and characteristics (Cranston 2012). Principals’ personal beliefs, background, and experiences have been found to shape their conceptions and preferences for teacher characteristics. This process can lead to bias in selection. Seeking person-organization fit also can be problematic as teacher applicants are judged at the same time for their congruence with the interviewers’ beliefs and values and their ability to bring change and innovation to a classroom. Looking for fit can reinforce existing school culture and make substantive, systemic change and improvement harder. Also, little is known about the relationship between fit and teacher effectiveness (Cranston 2012; Freil 2015; Ingle, Rutledge, and Bishop 2011). In addition, applicants’ self-promotion can easily manipulate and influence interviewers’ perceptions of organizational fit (Huffcutt 2011). Research in the business field has found that candidates use impression management to enhance their fit with the interviewer or organization (Schneider 2014). Research on this issue identifies a number of ingratiation and self-promotion tactics that applicants use to increase recruiters’ appreciation and perceptions of fit, and that perceptions of fit effect subsequent selection decisions. Research studies in the business sector found that interviewers’ subjective assessment of person-organization fit has important effects on their recommendations relative to other competing applicant characteristics, and that interviewers’ hiring recommendations directly affect organizations’ hiring directions (Higgins and Judge 2004). Factors to consider in organizational fit Nevertheless, just because concepts such as values and cultures are abstract and subjective, that doesn’t mean organizational fit is unimportant (Handler 2004). When used appropriately, interview questions on person-organization fit can solicit information about the applicants that complement the data collected through other types of interview questions. The key is to use objectively designed tools to measure the match of an individual’s beliefs and values with the culture, norm, and values of an organization. In order to hire candidates of best fit, organizations need to establish a baseline of the organization’s culture, which can be identified in several major dimensions, such as innovation, stability, orientation towards people, orientation towards outcomes, easygoing versus aggressive, attention to detail, or team orientation (Chatman 1991). Organizational values vary based on a school’s cultural context, and principals apply different value systems based on unique, specific school context (Ingle, Rutledge, and Bishop 2011). These, along with culture, shape how employees see and how they respond to their world. They suggest “the way we do things around here” and shape how problems are conceptualized, defined, analyzed, and solved. To measure applicants’ value congruence, it is recommended that heads of school use more specific and intentional behavior-based questioning, with less emphasis on situational or hypothetical questions, and more use of rubrics to measure candidate responses (Freil 2015). For instance, for the international schools with culturally diverse settings, cultural intelligence is a quality that recruiters should look for among applicants. Therefore, interview questions related to organizational fit should be created around an individual’s adaptability, open-mindedness, and effectiveness in conducting cross-cultural communication. International schools generally exist to meet the educational needs of culturally diverse and globally mobile student bodies. Students come from a variety of contexts, such as foreign embassies, multinational companies, military settlements, missionary/religious groups, and non-governmental organizations. In addition to expatriate families, students from local financially able families often choose to attend international schools. This mix results in the student body and staff both being quite diverse culturally. Thus, the applicant’s capability to function and manage effectively in culturally diverse settings is especially important (Keung and Rockinson-Szapkiw 2013; Thomas, et al. 2008). References: Chatman, J. A. 1991. “Matching people and organizations: Selection and socialization in public accounting firms.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 36: 459–484. Cranston, J. A. 2012.” Evaluating prospects: The criteria used to hire new teachers.” Alberta Journal of Education Research 58 (3): 350–367. Freil, R. S. 2015. “Relational flexibility within a connected culture: Elementary principal’s perceptions of environmental fit in teacher selection.” Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Pittsburg, Canada. Handler, C. 2004. “The value of person-organization fit.” ERE Media. May 20, 2004. Higgins, C. A., and 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. Huffcutt, A. I. 2011. “An empirical review of the employment interview construct literature.” International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 19(1): 62–81. Ingle, K., Rutledge, S., & Bishop, J. 2011. “Context matters: Principals’ sensemaking of teacher hiring and on-the-job performance.” Journal of Educational Administration, 49(5): 579–610. Keung, E. K., & Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J. 2013. “The relationship between transformational leadership and cultural intelligence: A study of international school leaders.” Journal of Educational Administration, 51(6): 836–854. Sims, R. A. 2011. “Cultural intelligence as a predictor of job satisfaction and intent to renew contract among expatriate international school teachers in Latin America.” Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Trident University International, Cypress, CA. Schneider, L. 2015. “Examining the criterion-validity of interview anxiety and impression management.” Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Thomas, D. C., Elron, E., Stahl, G., Ekelunk, B. Z., Ravlin, E. C., Cerdin, J., et al. 2008. “Cultural intelligence: Domain and assessment.” International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 8(2): 123–143.

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