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What Is Motivational Fit and Is It Really Important in Hiring?

Posted by  Greg Kedenburg

question-markThere are a variety of factors to consider during the hiring process, from experience to education to related job knowledge. Having to consider such a wide range can be overwhelming to a hiring manager. At the risk of adding one more to the list, motivational fit can often make or break it for a candidate in terms of how successful they’ll be in an organization. An often overlooked component, the degree to which a candidate’s motivations align with the organization’s can at times make an even bigger impact on job performance than the aforementioned factors.

What is Motivational Fit?

Motivational fit is defined as the extent to which an employee’s expectations of what they’ll get out of a job match up with what the organization provides. How closely these two match will play a big part in whether or not an employee will stay in any given job. The aspects which make up motivational fit are varied, but can be sorted into two general categories: Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic motivators.

Extrinsic motivators include factors related to the physical job itself such as salary, benefits, schedule, the work environment itself, etc., whereas intrinsic motivators are more abstract, such as the degree of autonomy, level of interaction with customers/coworkers, or level of intensity inherent in the job. Extrinsic and intrinsic motivators are not weighted the same when an employee is considering their job.

For example, they may place more emphasis on being able to work autonomously than the salary, therefore sacrificing their compensation to an extent to be able to have more control over their work. Conversely, they may not care to what extent they interact with co-workers or customers so long as the benefits of the job line up with what they desire. The closer an organization’s culture and work environment match with an employee’s extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, the more likely that candidate will be to remain at that job.

Why Does Motivational Fit Matter in Hiring?

All hiring processes include some level of motivational fit matching, it’s inherent in the very nature of hiring. During the negotiation, a back and forth rapport is developed to discuss the more extrinsic factors such as compensation, schedule, and benefits, with both sides making concessions at times. But not all hiring managers consider the idea of motivational fit beyond this, and it can often be to their detriment. Taking the extra time to ensure that a candidate fully understands the nature of the job, the physical environment in which they’ll be working, how much control they’ll have over their work, and the extent to which they’ll be interacting with others can be the difference between hiring a high or low performer. If a candidate who much prefers to work with customers comes into a role in which they have very infrequency or non-existent customer interactions, they will not be as fulfilled as they could be. If an individual who is motivated by compensation does not receive the salary they desired, they would similarly less motivated.

Making sure to include questions aimed to get at motivational fit during the interview can be the difference maker in terms of hiring someone who is somewhat motivated to perform well and hiring someone who is very highly motivated to perform well. While other factors are certainly important during the hiring process, motivational fit may well be one of the most critical aspects to consider.

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Tags:   hiring, motivational fit, quality hire

Greg Kedenburg

Greg is an I/O Psychologist living and working in Chicago, IL.

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