October 6, 2020

Person-Organization Fit

In previous articles, we shared our thoughts on where to find employees and how to find them. However, we have not touched on understanding how the right person fits into your organization.  Hiring is one of the most challenging processes in which a business can engage.  Failing to hire the right person can negatively impact workplace morale and increase financial impact of turnover.  Many employers use structured interviews, evaluations, tests, and other measures to ensure a potential hire fits the needs of the organization.  Some call hiring an inexact science.  But, like all sciences, there are theories behind these processes.

There are two widely studied theories on how employers and employees fit – Person-Organization Fit and Person-Job Fit.  This article focuses on Person-Organization and provides a brief introduction to the topic.  The use of Person-Organization Fit can help guide business leaders in making current practices intentional or altering current practices to gain a better actual and/or perceived fit between employer and employee.

Person-Organization Fit (POF)

In a landmark paper, Dr. Amy L. Kristof (1996) defined Person-Organization Fit “as the compatibility between people and organizations that occurs when: (a) at least one entity provides what the other needs, or (b) they share similar fundamental characteristics, or (c) both” (p.4).

The above figure represents a visualization of Person-Organization Fit (Kristof, 1996). Supplementary fit (arrow ‘a’) refers to a connection or match between an organization’s culture, climate, values, goals, and norms to a person’s values, goals, personality, and attitudes.  This fit is an initial bond between the organization and person.  Dr. Kristof notes that the short time table of a selection process may skew this fit. “…perceived, rather than actual fit, is more influential during the selection process” (1996, p.24).  However, this is not to say that a hire will not work out, but to recognize that there a number of factors that impact the selection process such as a recruiter’s bias, an applicant’s ability to self-monitor during the interview process, and/or hiring process timeline.

Complementary fit consists of needs-supply fit (arrow ‘b’) and demands-abilities fit (arrow ‘c’).  “Organizations supply financial, physical, and psychological resources as well as the task-related, interpersonal, and growth opportunities that are demanded by employees” (Kristof, 1996, p.4).  Therefore, when an organization meets these demands of employees, the needs-supply fit has been reached.  Conversely, organization’s demand “contributions from their employees in terms of time, effort, commitment, knowledge, skills, and abilities” (Kristof, 1996, p.4).  When the employee meets these demands of the organization, the demand-supply fit has been reached.


Higher levels of congruence between the person and the organization have long-term benefits for the organization and the individual.  The better the fit between the person and the organization leads to more positive work attitudes, lower employee stress, lower potential turnover, prosocial behaviors, and higher levels of work performance.  Ultimately, these positive outcomes contribute to success for the organization.


Kristof, A. L. (1996). Person organization fit: An integrative review of its conceptualizations, measurement, and implications. Personnel Psychology, 49(1), 1-49.

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