Employability is typically defined as

the continuous fulfilling, acquiring or creating of work through the optimal use of competences. (Van der Heijde & Van der Heijden, 2006)

One's employability does not only depend on one's ability to work (both physically and mentally), but also one's motivation to work and learn and the opportunity to work (Brouwers, 2012; dutch citation).

Especially for elders, who are getting older and older, and have to work longer (i.e. until a higher age), employability is becoming incredibly relevant. They need to be able (and willing) to keep on working until their retirement, either in their current position or another less demanding job. This is a difficult job without clear insights. However, with such an incredibly broad term, it will even be difficult to gain those insights.

Are there tools available to asses the personal factors of individuals' employability?

Heijde, C. M., & Van Der Heijden, B. I. (2006). A competence‐based and multidimensional operationalization and measurement of employability. Human resource management, 45(3), 449-476.

Brouwer, S., de Lange, A., van der Mei, S., Wessels, M., Koolhaas, W., Bültmann, U., ... & van der Klink, J. (2012). Duurzame inzetbaarheid van de oudere werknemer: stand van zaken. Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen, Groningen: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

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    $\begingroup$ The question is a bit broad, but I can see you are trying to narrow this down by asking for tools to help with candidate selection whilst recruiting. I think this question might be better suited to the Workplace Stack Exchange site, however you may need to break the question up as certain aspects won't be able to be asked there, for example here in the UK we have regulations which might affect things such as the Disability Discrimination Act. Asking about legal aspects might need to be directed to the Law site $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ I'll rephrase the question as to focus more on the individual qualities of the individuals. I am less interested in the organizational and legal factors, which will be, indeed, country or even company specific. I then believe that the question would be a good fit here, since assessing a persons mental state and aptitude will definitely be grounded in psychological sciences. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ A small additional note, I don't see employability as a tool for employers to select employees, but as a tool for employees (or researchers) to gain insight in their (i.e. the employees) current situation. Having this insight may help to identify factors that could help (elderly) people to "keep-up" with an rapidly and ever changing world. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ Do note that the 7 items in the WAI primarily concern the individual's condition regarding employment. Cyclical unemployment also plays a huge role. $\endgroup$
    – Valia
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 15:14

2 Answers 2


Measures of person-job fit and/or person-organization fit. The following rather randomly assembled references are intended as links to some questionnaires.


Chang, H.-T., Chi, N.-W., & Chuang, A. (2010). Exploring the moderating roles of perceived person-Job fit and person-organisation fit on the relationship between training investment and knowledge workers’ turnover intentions. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 59(4), 566–593.

Kooij, D. T. A. M., van Woerkom, M., Wilkenloh, J., Dorenbosch, L., & Denissen, J. J. A. (2017). Job crafting towards strengths and interests: The effects of a job crafting intervention on person–job fit and the role of age. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(6), 971–981. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000194

Piasentin, K. A., & Chapman, D. S. (2007). Perceived similarity and complementarity as predictors of subjective person-organization fit. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 80(2), 341–354. https://doi.org/10.1348/096317906X115453

Saks, A. M., & Ashforth, B. E. (1997). A longitudinal investigation of the relationships between job information sources, applicant perceptions of fit, and work outcomes. Personnel Psychology, 50(2), 395–426. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1997.tb00913.x

Wheeler, A. R., Gallagher, V. C., Brouer, R. L., & Sablynski, C. J. (2007). When person-organization (mis)fit and (dis)satisfaction lead to turnover: The moderating role of perceived job mobility. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22(2), 203–219. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683940710726447


One common tool to asses the personal factors of employability is the Work Ability Index (WAI; Tuomi, 1998). The WAI consists of 7 items, which contain one or multiple questions that have to be rated by the employee him-/herself. The items are:

  1. Current work ability compared with lifetime best.
  2. Work ability in relation to the demands of the job (both physically and mentally).
  3. Number of current diseases diagnoses by a physician.
  4. Estimated work impairment due to diseases.
  5. Sick leave during the year.
  6. Own prognosis of work ability two years from now.
  7. Mental resources (consists of "enjoy daily tasks", "active and alert", and "full of hope for the future")

Especially item 7 concerns the psychological aspects of the employee, whereas items 1, 2 and 6 do rely on the employee's own judgement. The WAI thus focuses on personal aspects of employability, which, in part, are grounded in psychological sciences.

The WAI has shown to be sufficiently reliable (De Zwart, 2002; Radkiewicz, 2005) and, rather interestingly, is accepted in both the scientific community and is being used in the field (Brouwer, 2012)

Tuomi, K., Ilmarinen, J., Jahkola, A., Katajarinne, L., & Tulkki, A. (1994). Work ability index. Helsinki: Institute of Occupational Health.

De Zwart, B. C. H., Frings‐Dresen, M. H. W., & Van Duivenbooden, J. C. (2002). Test–retest reliability of the Work Ability Index questionnaire. Occupational medicine, 52(4), 177-181.

Radkiewicz, P., Widerszal-Bazyl, M., & NEXT-Study Group. (2005, June). Psychometric properties of Work Ability Index in the light of comparative survey study. In International Congress Series (Vol. 1280, pp. 304-309). Elsevier.

Brouwer, S., de Lange, A., van der Mei, S., Wessels, M., Koolhaas, W., Bültmann, U., ... & van der Klink, J. (2012). Duurzame inzetbaarheid van de oudere werknemer: stand van zaken. Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen, Groningen: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.


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