Job Analysis and Job Descriptions in Recruitment and Selection
Job analysis and description is a specific approach used by modern business organizations to identify and attract the most suitable employment candidates for positions (Kinicki & Williams, 2005; Scott, Reynolds, & Church, 2010). However, it also comprises much broader functions that are conducive to organizational success and growth. Specifically, the job analysis and description process allows business (and other employing) organizations to maximize employee satisfaction, minimize employee turnover, optimize training systems, and to reduce the costs associated with all of those elements collectively. Generally, contemporary job analysis and description methods include direct observation, work methods analysis and microanalysis (particularly in connection with industrial and repetitive processes), critical incident technique (CIT), interviews and questionnaires, and analysis if specific vocational competencies (Kinicki & Williams, 2005; Scott, Reynolds, & Church, 2010).
The Concept and Purpose of Job Analysis
In principle, the main purposes of job analysis are to (1) provide accurate descriptions of the responsibilities and functions of specific positions; (2) assist in the tasks of identifying, attracting, evaluating, and selecting the most qualified and suitable candidates for employment; (3) evaluate positional responsibilities in connection with operational design and decision-making; (4) establish optimal and fair compensation schemes; (5) provide effective criteria and measurement tools for performance appraisals; (6) optimize training programs, methods, and materials; and (7) ensure legal and regulatory compliance (Brannick & Levine, 2007; George & Jones, 2008).
Generally, the most important issues considered within the scope and framework of the contemporary job analysis and description function are those that relate to the specific duties and tasks associated with positions; the nature of the work performed; the internal and external environments in which the work is performed; the tools and equipment utilized; the knowledge, skills, and abilities required of successful employees in the position; and the significant factors affecting internal and external interpersonal relationships (Brannick & Levine, 2007; Robbins & Judge, 2009).
More particularly, the types of information considered relevant to specific duties and tasks includes the micro-elements that define the actual vocational responsibilities and tasks of a position, such as the skills involved, their relative complexity, and the frequency and duration of efforts required to accomplish them successfully (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, et al., 2009; Russell-Walling, 2007). The nature of the work performed and the internal and external environments in which the work is performed determine some of the, mental, psychological, personal, and physical requirements conducive to long-term success in a given position (Brannick & Levine, 2007; Russell-Walling, 2007). Similarly, the tools and equipment required of positions determine many aspects of the specific types of knowledge, skills, and abilities are necessary for success in a position; they also typically define the importance of previous vocational experience, such as in connection with working with those tools and that equipment (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, et al., 2009).
An accurate and comprehensive analysis and description of the knowledge, (including educational background and industry-specific certifications and licenses), skills, and abilities of employees in specific positions is crucial to the ability of organizations to attract and select the best candidates for success (Patterson, 2008; Scott, Reynolds, & Church, 2010). Moreover, the relative accuracy of those assessments becomes increasingly important as a function of the level, complexity, and importance of different vocational positions (Scott, Reynolds, & Church, 2010).
Finally, because most modern employment situations involve collaboration, coordination, and communication with others, the job analysis and description also establishes the types of interpersonal qualities and skills that are associated with success in various positions (Faragher, Cass, & Cooper, 2005; Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008). That element of job analysis and description is particularly important because it often transcends all of the other factors and considerations. In that regard, all of the knowledge and skill-related elements of prospective employee characteristics that are capable of quantifiable assessment are only of value to the employing organization to the extent the individual under consideration for employment is personally and psychologically predisposed to long-term satisfaction and success in the contemplated position (Faragher, Cass, & Cooper, 2005).
Job Analysis Methodology
The traditional manner of conducting job analysis and description is simply to observe the nature of vocational positions through observation (Brannick & Levine, 2007; George & Jones, 2008). For example, such methods as direct observation, work methods analysis and microanalysis (particularly with respect to industrial production or assembly and repetitive tasks), and through critical incident technique (CIT), which focuses on specific occurrences in the course of employment that are associated with important positive or negative outcomes, are quite common. In principle, the CIT methodology consists of five main aspects of analysis: problem (or issue of concern) recognition; fact collection and review, underlying issue identification, consideration of possible solutions, and post-implementation evaluation (Brannick & Levine, 2007; George & Jones, 2008). Other approaches to job analysis and description include interviews (such as with incumbents and supervisors); expert panels; checklists, work logs, and task inventories; and survey instruments such as questionnaires.
Generally, job analysis and description methodology is not restricted to any single methodology although certain types of approaches are more appropriate to certain fields and industries by the nature of those concerns. For example, the CIT approach is much more important in connection with vocational responsibilities where negative consequences can be especially harmful, dangerous, or irreversible (Patterson, 2008; Scott, Reynolds, & Church, 2010). In that regard, negative-outcome incidents are more significant than positive-outcome incidents, such as where failure to optimize selection, hiring, and training can result in human deaths or grievous injuries in fields like medicine or law enforcement. Meanwhile, where the primary functions of vocational responsibilities relate to economic matters (particularly without significant risk of major losses associated with negative-outcome incidents), positive-outcome incidents may be considered more important within the scope and framework of CIT-based job analysis than negative-outcome incidents (Scott, Reynolds, & Church, 2010).
Job Analysis as a Recruitment and Selection Tool and Potential Barriers
In principle, job analysis and description is a tremendously important tool within the arsenal of human resources operations and hiring managers. Naturally, the better and more accurately the organization (and prospective employees) understand the details of any position and the specific requirements for both long and short-term success and satisfaction, the more beneficial that is to the organization as well as to its employees. Ideally, effective job analysis and description allows organizations to identify the exact attributes and qualifications necessary for their employees to succeed in their positions.
Likewise, the more accurate the organization's job analysis and description efforts, the better prospective applicants for employment can assess their qualifications and their suitability for specific positions within those organizations. In that regard, effective job analysis and description processes benefit the organization by eliminating (or at least substantially reducing) wasted funds and other valuable resources interviewing, training, hiring, and eventually replacing unsuitable candidates (George & Jones, 2008; Robbins & Judge, 2009). The same is true from the perspective of employees: nobody benefits from taking on a position for which one is not well suited or that is simply not capable of fulfilling or satisfying the needs of employees on a long-term basis. Both employers and employees seek stability of employment and an essential correspondence between expectation and reality (George & Jones, 2008; Robbins & Judge, 2009).
On the other hand, the job analysis and description process is hardly foolproof for several reasons. In many cases, the individual elements within job analyses and descriptions include aspects of subjectivity, both in their characterization and in their assigned relative importance (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, et al., 2009; Patterson, 2008). This is true even where the individual elements are themselves objectively quantifiable. Another potential barrier to the success of the job analysis and description process is that the methods relied upon to evaluate the individual elements of analysis are also highly subjective. Moreover, to the degree that job analysis and description methods depend on interviews and surveys, there are potential barriers in relation to the accuracy of perceptions and also to the honesty of the individuals involved (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, et al., 2009). Furthermore, even beyond those barriers, accuracy of self-perception and the differences between optimistic hopes or beliefs and more realistic limitations of prospective employment candidates can undermine even the best designed job analysis and description approach to optimizing human resource functions.
Finally, because human beings are such dynamic and psychologically complex creatures, it can be very difficult to reliably predict performance (and especially, long-term satisfaction) on the basis of data-based criteria, analyses, and predictions (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008). Despite best efforts and well designed human resource methodologies in relation to identifying the most relevant criteria, otherwise ideal employment candidates assessed on the basis of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personality, sometimes do not perform well; on other occasions, they may perform well but not derive as much satisfaction as predictive modeling methods would suggest prospectively.
Without a doubt, job description and analysis is an essential task of contemporary human resource management. Whereas it cannot necessarily guarantee results on a case-by-case basis, the effectiveness of its general implementation is…