In determining job fit, there are several factors which must be considered. All are important, so all must be considered when making employee selection decisions.

The first factor is matching what the position has to do with what the person is comfortable doing. We need to match the behaviors needed on the job with the person’s preferred behavior style. If the position involves sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen most of the day, then it wouldn’t make much sense to put a highly energetic, outgoing person in the position. We would want to find someone who is introverted and highly analytical, preferring tasks over people. Similarly, we wouldn’t want to put a passive, laid back person in a management role where difficult decisions were needed to quickly turnaround poor performance .

Another factor in job matching is comparing the motivators that exist in the job to the key interests of the person. For example, if someone has a high Utilitarian drive, the drive for financial return for effort expended, they will be well matched to a job that ties compensation directly to performance, such as commission sales. To underscore the significance of this, one study found that majority of teachers who had a high Utilitarian drive left the profession within five years.  Conversely, a high percentage teachers with a high Social drive, the drive to help others and make the world a better place, stayed in teaching for their entire career.

We also found that a person’s underlying talent for reasoning and thinking tie directly to job success. We need to understanding the types of decisions and situations that the person will encounter, and to match this to the capacities of the individual. Most management jobs require that a person have the ability to see situations in a balanced manner from three perspectives—people, tasks, and systems. People who have a significantly underdeveloped capacity in one or more of these dimensions will consistently make bad judgments and decisions.

Culture is also an important factor is determining job match. In my career, I saw several times where we transferred a person from one division to another and the person changed from a mediocre performer to a  great performer simply because of the difference in cultures between the two divisions. I also saw the reverse happen—a superstar in one division struggled to perform in another division because of cultural differences.

Finally, after a few failures in helping companies match people to the job, I discovered one other factor which also must be considered. That factor is the immediate supervisor of the person. Although most companies say they appreciate diversity of opinion and styles, the reality is that it is very difficult to for a person to succeed if the style of the boss and subordinate create serious conflict.

Notice that technical qualifications did not enter into the job fit discussion. While it is obviously important to make sure a person has the technical skills required for the job, these usually do not lead to poor job fit.