Do Your Employees ‘Match The Positions They Play?’

Earlier this month, the Twins moved pitcher Francisco Liriano out of the bullpen into the starting rotation, and for the first time in a long time the struggling pitcher gave a good performance. Although the team lost 0-1, Liriano looked sharp. He allowed only four hits in six innings, and struck out eight.

Maybe, we Twins fans hoped, he had found his former pitching self and the Twins had found where he belongs. He hadn’t done well as a reliever, though he actually performed a bit better there than as a starter. And he isn’t a closer.

Although once seemingly destined to become the team’s leading pitcher, he’s clearly struggling to find his niche on the team.

But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today.

It’s not where or how the Twins will use Liriano and their other pitchers—it’s how they decide. Besides on performance, on what do they determine who makes a good starter? And what traits do they look for in bullpen pitchers and closers?

Pitchers must have qualifications that make them better in one role rather than another. Say a reliever over a starter. (I’m a Twins fan, but I don’t know what they are. If you do, send me a note. I’d like to know.)

What do the Twins look for? Not only in pitchers, but in position players—like maybe good reflexes in a short stop, for example.

What I’m saying is that they must match a player’s abilities to the requirements of the position they ask him to play.

Think about this. Let’s say the Twins needed a closing pitcher, but they had only players with first baseman qualities. Where would that put the team?

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But ask yourself, “are all the players in my company capable only of playing first base?”

Or, do my “players” match the positions they play?

Here’s why it matters:

Without the right job fit an employee will never experience the happiness and success he deserves at work. He’ll never achieve his true potential.

For you and your company, poor job fit means lower productivity, higher absenteeism, more conflict in the workplace. All affect your bottom line.

Interviews Aren’t Enough
Following 360,000 employees in their careers for 20 years, a major study published by the Harvard Business Review demonstrated job match as a key ingredient in retaining people.

The study concluded, “It’s not experience that counts, or college degrees or other accepted factors—success hinges on the fit with the job.”

Which means you want to do whatever you can to identify the people who fit the positions you are filling.

But here’s the rub: Most organizations go about the selection process all wrong. 

Evidence shows that the majority of hiring and placement decisions are made by managers or executives who have “gut feelings” about people.

They hire impulsively, which leads to training costs and high turnover rates.

And they base their hiring decision primarily on the traditional interview.

Trouble is, traditional job interviews are not very good at selecting the best candidates. Interviews favor candidates who are attractive, sociable, articulate…and tall.  Also manipulative; those candidates that know how to make a positive impression quickly.
Yet these people quite often are poor performers. (We all know poised, charming people who simply can’t do the job.) 

So how should you approach matching people to jobs?

1) Determine what your position requires in terms of abilities, interests and personality. In other words, create a benchmark of what it takes to be a “top performer” in the position.

2) Measure your applicant (or existing employee) and compare her to the benchmark. This way, you will know how well she fits the position you want filled.

Here’s the bottom line: There are no quick, easy and inexpensive “silver bullets” to help you find quality people. And though interviews may succeed, hundreds of studies show they likely won’t.

Apply these steps, however, and you will make your hiring process more efficient, and you will more likely hire the best-fit candidate possible.

Tips: Six Factors to Consider When Assessing A Candidate’s Potential Job Fit

Pardon me if I repeat myself, but if there’s one point I want you to take from this newsletter, it’s this: 
         Job interviews alone are simply unreliable when selecting the best candidates.

Why? Because they hold these two common flaws:

“So if I can’t rely on job interviews alone, where do I turn?” you ask.

To pre-hire assessments, for one thing, but more about that in the Solutions Toolbox section of this newsletter.

Meanwhile, here are some factors to consider when assessing a candidate’s potential job fit:

You want to hire the best talent you can find. And you want to ensure they fit the jobs you are hiring them for. Shouldn’t you take whatever steps available to you to ensure you find them?

This is a rhetorical question, of course, but here’s the thing. Employees who experience job fit are productive, happy and contributing employees. If you take short cuts in hiring, if you rely on the interview alone, you likely won’t match your candidate to the job.


Your Solution Toolbox: Measuring Employee Engagement Levels

In evaluating job candidates, you’ll find pre-hire assessments such as the ProfileXT® from Profiles International indispensable. You can use these assessments to look at skills, competencies and behaviors. 

For example, when you have an open position in your company, you can use the ProfileXT®  to create an “ideal success profile” for that position based on your high, middle and low performers. 

Then you can use the tool to outline the type of person right for your job and match potential candidates from it. 

What’s more, you can use the ProfileXT® throughout your employee’s life cycle. Say you have an employee job searching or expressing unhappiness in his current role. You can use the ProfileXT® to examine job fit. Finding a mismatch, you can use the ProfileXT® to find the appropriate position for him, or identify training needed to rectify the fit.

And besides a simple skills report, the ProfileXT®, offers insight for hiring managers in preparing for interviews so you will get the most out of that step in the hiring process. For this step, the ProfileXT® includes an interview guide. 

If you are interested in learning more about the ProfileXT®, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to

HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We’ll help you learn how to:

 • Understand your workers’ strengths, weaknesses and interests
 • Match people to job demands
 • Increase employee performance throughout your organization


Let's Talk! We offer a no-obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures and practices. This may help determine what's missing in your current programs. Again, call 952-322-3330 or send an email to

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