Publication Date

January 1992


To date, normative selection models have focused primarily on matching individual knowledges, skills, and abilities to job requirements. However, it has increasingly been argued that people should also be selected for fit to broader organizational characteristics such as strategy, culture and values. Despite the apparent reasonableness of these claims, there has been little research on how employers actually go about the task of screening or selecting for broader organizational fit. Accordingly, the present study examined how organizational recruiters assess applicant fit. Fifty-four campus recruiters in four colleges provided examples of "best-fitting" and "worst-fitting" applicants from just-completed interview schedules, along with specific descriptions of what it was that made each applicant "fit" or "not fit". Examination of interview transcripts suggested that despite the recent emphasis on unique organizational values, strategies, or cultures in discussions of fit, by far the most frequently-mentioned determinants of fit were either (1) job-related coursework or experience, or (2) generally (rather than uniquely) desirable personal characteristics such as articulateness, positive personal appearance, and good general communication skills. However, some systematic differences were detected in the extent to which particular characteristics were sought by recruiters in different colleges or by those recruiting for different types of vacancies. Findings are related to previous research, and implications for applicants, employers, and future researchers are offered.


Suggested Citation
Bretz, R. D., Jr., Rynes, S. L., & Gerhart, B. (1992). Recruiter perceptions of applicant fit: Commonalities and differences (CAHRS Working Paper #92-01). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.