Person-Job Fit and Its Practical Application

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Companies employ different ways to improve their performance: study scientific evidence, explore motivational forces and job satisfaction factors. Being acknowledged that a thriving workforce is a key to a successful business, managing staff utilizes motivation theories, such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Herzberg’s two-factor theory, and access their employees’ values to select the best personnel. One of the most effective strategies relates to the approach of a farmer who has the expertise to choose the right seeds and knowledge of specific environments beneficial for their growth. This is person-job fit – Holland’s theory of aligning employees through the process of careful recruitment and selection according to personal unique attributes and job requirements (Coetzer, 2019).

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Person-job fit theory states that when employees are aligned according to their personality types, they show high rates of job satisfaction and are less likely to quit. The effectiveness of person-job fit is proved by its strong theoretical background, convenient practical application, and evidence-based outcomes presented in a range of studies. Person-job fit results in higher job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity levels, and lesser turnover, stress, and burnout rates.

John Holland’s personality-job fit theory presents the theoretical background of person-job fit. Holland proposed his Vocational Inventory questionnaire of 160 occupational titles to define the personality profile of an individual (Robbins et al., 2017). He divided personality types into realistic, conventional, enterprising, social, investigative, and artistic groups (Scandura, 2019). There are compatible orientations and oppositions describing the most undesirable position. For example, a person preferring rule-regulated and disciplined activities with such personality features as conformism and inflexibility will perform better as a bank teller but show poor results in the artistic position.

The most important implication of Holland’s theory is that individuals have various personality types, and managers should choose congruent positions for their subordinates, allowing them to show the best productivity. For example, in case of an improper match, an outgoing accountant lacks the opportunities to socialize, and an introverted mid-level manager fails to take the central role in regulating conflicting interests (Scandura, 2019). According to Holland’s theory, the conventional job of an accountant is suitable for conforming, unimaginative people, and the enterprising nature of a managing position requires someone dominant and energetic (Robbins et al., 2017). Thus, knowledge of Holland’s theory allows managers to avoid mistakes affecting their company’s performance.

Understanding personalities is a key characteristic of a strong servant leader. Coetzer (2019) notes that servant leaders should be aware that personal differences are rather stable during the lifetime and hard to change, so they work to enhance the person-job fit to influence the individuals around them positively. For example, Noone et al. (2018), in their analysis of factors influencing older Australians to stay at their jobs, show that individuals preferred to remain employed when their person-job fit improved due to special training. Coetzer (2019) recommends creating a plan of personal development with the required training and further activities to re-assess employees’ achievements. In addition to adequate alignment, employees also benefit from the person-job fit analysis because they get an opportunity to close the gaps in their skills or knowledge.

It could be argued that today, when labour source exploitation results in many mental and physical illnesses, negative effects of stress and burnout could be prevented if employees are provided with the required job resources as person-job fit. Brandstätter et al. (2016), in their investigation, demonstrate how a person-job misfit could affect employees’ mental and physical health. Scholars state that when personal motivation does not comply with position requirements, employees will likely experience physical illnesses and burnout symptoms (Brandstätter et al., 2016). Rajper et al. analysed 382 questionnaires to find out that inadequate person-job fit “is negatively associated -41% to burnout” (2019, p.195). Thus, managers should focus on the development and implementation of employee adjustment programs to reduce burnout levels in workers and enhance their productivity.

Person-job fit correlates with a range of theories studying the inner sources of motivation. An adequate person-job fit is associated with self-actualisation lying at the peak of Maslow’s pyramid. The leader, careful of their employee’s congruence with their job role, could be seen as an example of a McGregor’s Theory X manager who makes positive assumptions about subordinates’ attitudes to work. According to Herzberg’s two-factor theory, extrinsic and intrinsic job satisfaction factors could be attributed to adequate person-job fit: managers should be aware of them when aligning their employees to the positions. For example, an individual motivated by commissions will never be satisfied with group rewards (Griffin et al., 2019).

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In terms of self-efficacy and equity theories, a proper person-job fit gives an individual enough confidence for productive job performance and contributes to the feeling of fairness, preventing anger or guilt tensions. Hence, people are better motivated when they perform the job that fits them.

Holland’s questionnaire creates the basis of the person-job fit analysis application, but managers could transform it to serve their goals. However, managers also could utilize more advanced techniques to conduct a person-job fit analysis, such as CV screening, competency-based interview guide, and psychometric assessment scorecard (Coetzer, 2019). According to Coetzer (2019), a person-job fit analysis involves comparing a personal life purpose with the key responsibilities, personal qualifications with the educational requirements, experience with the required skills, and features of character with the attributes for the position. While creating a good fit between an individual and job, managers may consider the level of intelligence, attitudes, values, learning styles, and tolerance to stress and score the most relevant characteristics.

In addition to person-job fit tools, personality could be measured through self-reports and observer-ratings conducted by colleagues, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or the Big Five Model. MBTI is a personality test, classifying people due to their characteristics on introverted and extraverted, thinking and feeling, intuitive and sensing, perceiving and judging (Robbins et al., 2017). The Big Five Model tests people on the dimensions of extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness (Robbins et al., 2017). For example, according to the MBTI, managers could choose for leading positions sensing, thinking, and judging extroverts, or rely on the Big Five Model results to find agreeable and conscientious extroverts (Robbins et al., 2017).

These models have a wide evidence base supporting their effectiveness in the prediction of employees’ behaviour. However, due to research results, these tools have certain limitations in their accuracy and relation to job performance (Robbins et al., 2017). For instance, self-reports could be false, because applicants attempt to create a better impression, observer-ratings might be biased, the MBTI is inflexible in the classification and fails to correspond with professions (Robbins et al., 2017). The Big Five Model could predict the possible achievements, but it is more general than personality-job fit. Therefore, it is valuable to use these tools in complex to obtain valid scores.

Modern researchers study the application of person-job fit to articulate recommendations for managers. The person-job fit approach employed in gender studies shows that women tend to consider work-life balance and family proximity as influential factors (Venkatesh et al., 2017). In the Australian study of older workers’ preferences to remain employed, Noone et al. (2018) presented the data proving the value of person-job fit. Another study from Australia demonstrates that if teachers fit the profession, they are less likely to quit or switch schools (Player et al., 2017). Sylva et al. (2019) accentuate that person-job fit should be adapted due to ever-changing job demands by means of an individual proactively striving for optimization. In practice, if an individual does not fit a job, managers could redesign the job without replacing their subordinates to achieve better congruence (Mathis et al., 2016).

In addition, all the stated studies proved that person-job fit enables organisations to achieve high staff commitment and satisfaction. Potential interventions for managers may include paying greater attention to recruitment activities and job skill development programs to create a supportive psychosocial environment at work.

In conclusion, the person-job fit, supported by solid theoretical background and investigations’ results, demonstrates its efficacy as an adjustable tool to meet the organisation’s needs in practice and contributes to employees’ better performance. Successful person-job fit results in a higher level of employees’ engagement with the experience of energy, absorption, and motivation. Conversely, inadequate person-job fit causes employee burnout characterized by physical and mental exhaustion, detachment, and low levels of accomplishments. Therefore, leaders should understand personalities as person-job fit correlates with motivation and personality theories, servant leadership, and the creation of a constructive culture in the company.

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The practical application of person-job fit relates to the achievement of congruence in values, goals, needs, and organisational climate. It is adaptive to organisational requirements and could be supplemented with other tools, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Big Five Model. Moreover, the practical use of person-job fit extends through the recruitment and selection processes limits: the tests could be applied to develop further employee training programs. Managers should use person-job fit to enhance their workers’ commitment, self-efficacy, and engagement, as these positive outcomes were confirmed by many scientific studies.


Brandstätter, V., Job, V., & Schulze, B. (2016). Motivational incongruence and well-being at the workplace: Person-job fit, job burnout, and physical symptoms. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 1153. Web.

Coetzer, M. F. (2019). Leading business beyond profit: A practical guide to leading a business to profit and significance. WestBow Press.

Griffin, R. W., Phillips, J. M., & Gully, S. M. (2019). Organizational behavior: Managing people and organizations (13th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Mathis, R. L., Jackson, J. H., Valentine, S. R., & Meglich, P. A. (2016). Human resource management (15th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Noone, J., Knox, A., O’Loughlin, K., McNamara, M., Bohle, P., & Mackey, M. (2018). An analysis of factors associated with older workers’ employment participation and preferences in Australia. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2524. Web.

Player, D., Youngs, P., Perrone, F., & Grogan, E. (2017). How principal leadership and person-job fit are associated with teacher mobility and attrition. Teaching and Teacher Education, 67, 330–339. Web.

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Rajper, Z. A., Ghumro, I. A., & Mangi, R. A. (2019). Linking person job fit to employee job performance amid employees of services sector: The role of burnout as mediator. Journal of Social and Administrative Sciences, 6(4), 188-199. Web.

Robbins, S. P., Judge, T. A., Millett, B. & Boyle, M. (2017). Organisational behaviour (8th ed.). Pearson Australia.

Scandura, T. A. (2019). Essentials of organization behavior: An evidence-based approach (2nd ed.). Sage Publishing.

Sylva, H., Mol, S. T., Den Hartog, D. N., & Dorenbosch, L. (2019). Person-job fit and proactive career behaviour: A dynamic approach. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 28(5), 631-645. Web.

Venkatesh, V., Windeler, J. B., Bartol, K. M., & Williamson, I. O. (2017). Person-organization and person-job fit perceptions of new IT employees: Work outcomes and gender differences. Mis Quarterly, 41(2), 525-558. Web.

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