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Why it's important to consider person-environment fit when hiring


Meredith Stack


When you’re reviewing applications, professional success and industry experience are only part of the equation. Although they aren’t on a resume, personality traits make candidates the right fit for the role, company, and group.

You want to select applicants based on their ability to make contributions to the team. Person-environment fit (PE fit) is one way to assess if a candidate can effectively contribute to the organization.

Understand the four levels of PE fit.

Person-environment fit relates to how closely the individual matches their work environment. There are four aspects:

  1. Person-job fit refers to how well a person's characteristics match those of a specific job. Do the person's knowledge, skills, and abilities match the needs of the job? Similarly, the person-job fit also helps determine if the job will meet the person's desires.
  2. Person-supervisor fit refers to an individual's preferences compared to others. People are drawn to other people based on their values, attitudes, and opinions.
  3. Person-group fit refers to the interpersonal compatibility between individuals and their workgroup. Strong person-group fit is related to coworker satisfaction and feelings of cohesion.
  4. Person-organization fit refers to shared values among coworkers and organizational culture. Trust and a shared sense of community are present when person-organization fit occurs.

The theory behind PE fit is that there are specific environments which are most compatible with each person's personality. If an employee works in those environments, there’s a positive impact on attitudes about work as well as higher levels of performance.

Use PE fit to assess candidates.

From a hiring standpoint, PE fit plays an important role in predicting an employee’s success. When considering PE fit, recruiters and hiring managers should look for candidates who:

  • Exhibit person-job fit to ensure they can meet job requirements.
  • Have an excellent person-supervisor fit with their manager.
  • Be aligned with person-group fit to achieve work group success.
  • Demonstrate successful person-organization fit to ensure shared commitment.

For each role, the importance of each level may vary. For example, it’s a top priority that a call center representative would have a person-job fit that enabled them to execute job duties and to do without much frustration. For someone in a leadership role, they need to demonstrate person-organization fit to guarantee they are leading the organization in a way that represents the mission and core values.

Employees whose skills and personalities fit their jobs are more productive, satisfied, and stay longer. Trying to gauge person-job fit can be difficult without an assessment. Berke’s Job Fit Report connects the dots between what the job requires and the abilities and characteristics of the person. It measures the fit between a job and a person and identifies how well the candidate fits the job, and why.

Each candidate is unique. Without an assessment, it can take months, and maybe even years, to understand their person-environment fit. Organizations that are facing a tight labor market don't have that time. Having as much information up front about PE fit helps you assess if a candidate is someone who would positively contribute to your organization.

PE fit offers a powerful way not only to understand and learn more about candidates but also makes their chances for success more likely.

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