• Polly Chan

Finding the Best Fit Candidate: Is Motivational Fit Actually Important?

Updated: Sep 23



There are two types of leadership beliefs - type X and type Y.


A type X leader holds a belief that all individuals are inherently not interested in working. They will find ways to slack whenever they can. Hence in order to maximize productivity, we should find the best way to complete a task, then find a way to get all employees to do it that specific way.


On the other hand, we have our type Y leaders. They believe that everyone has their own motivator(s) that determines how hard, how much, and how long they want to work and why. In other words, anyone can be productive if they are motivated.


To answer the question - is Motivational Fit important? The answer would be, it depends. If you are a team/organization leader or an HR professional, ask yourself or your stakeholders, do you hold the beliefs of a type X or type Y leader?


To better define "motivational fit" here, social psychologists define this phenomenon as “the degree of alignment between what a person expects or wants from a job, and what the job can actually offer.” It explains why some people come to work energized and plugged in, while others seem unhappy but stay and complain, even when compensation and benefits are great compared to other opportunities.

There’s perhaps nothing wrong with the company, the role, or the individual, it just wasn’t the right fit.

In other words, what the person expects or wants is not what the job can actually offer.

Let me share a real-life case with you. I was supporting a company on their recruit for a newly created Country Manager role in Asia. One of the candidates, a high potential professional, hits all the requirements with flying colors. The hiring manager and company were excited about this candidate and made the offer. What happened? He refused the opportunity for the highly sought after relocation offer.


The question is - why? Did we not pay him enough? Was the role not what he wants? Apparently he could not leave his home country as he has a sick immediate family member where he is the primary caregiver. The motivation for him to stay overrules the motivation to take the role. What the company had to offer did not fill all his needs.

Our experience tells us that the motivational fit is highly correlated to performance and retention. Too often, we focus too heavily on whether an applicant has the technical and personality fit rather and undervalues (or doesn’t know how to measure) the motivational fit.

We believe that If a clear motivational fit is identified, you will be more likely to hire someone who will stay and flourish on the job.


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