Job Analysis and Selection Techniques

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Introduction

Job analyses can identify the core competencies an individual needs to effectively perform a given job. However, human resource (HR) practitioners require an accurate and reliable selection strategy to make proper decisions. This paper will discuss job analysis, employee selection, and how job analysis can influence employee selection. The report also provides examples to demonstrate the connection between job analysis and the chosen selection method.

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Job Analysis

Job analysis involves studying a job to identify its activities, responsibilities, and the qualifications needed to perform it. A job analysis’s primary objective is to determine the right fit between employees and the job, evaluate performance, assess compensation packages, and train needs. A company can use job analysis data for workforce planning, recruitment and selection, training and development, compensation, performance management, career and succession planning, and risk management. Typically, human resource officers will collect data on:

  • Knowledge and skills required to perform the job;
  • Machines and equipment used in the job;
  • Working conditions;
  • Financial budgeting;
  • Work activities and behaviors;
  • Supervisions needed.

Once the HR has collected this information, they will group the jobs based on the job family framework.

Recruitment & Selection

Recruitment involves screening, shortlisting, and selecting the candidate that is best suited for the position. The recruitment process considers an individual’s qualifications and experience to determine whether they will meet the organization’s requirements and needs (Picardi, 2019). Internal and external factors can influence a company’s recruitment capability to attract the most qualified company. The internal factors include the organization’s brand image, size, recruitment policies, and job image (Picardi, 2019). The external factors include unemployment rate, labor laws, legal considerations, competitors, and demographic characteristics. An efficient recruitment process can generate productivity. Selection involves interviewing candidates and analyzing their skills and qualifications to determine if they are the right match for the position.

Selection Techniques

Companies can decide to conduct an internal selection or external selection to identity qualified employees. Internal selection refers to selecting candidates from within the organization, whereas external selection involves hiring from outside the company. The typical selection techniques include:

  • Assessment tests (aptitude tests, psychometric tests, and skills/knowledge-based tests);
  • One-on-one interviews;
  • Panel interviews;
  • Assessment centers;
  • Medical or entry examinations.

Assessment Centers

These are formal assessment tests where candidates are asked to completed task-related exercises. The candidates are grouped in an isolated spot and perform various activities with the supervision of an evaluator. The organization typically presents interviewers with simulations of actual problems, tasks, or situations; the shortlisted applicants are tasked with resolving the issues as if they were real. The evaluators will observe the candidates’ performance during the assessment and evaluate them based on a standard rating score. This method helps identify a candidate’s potential for a managerial position or promotion. The assessment centers are typically conducted for at least an entire day or several days.

Interviews

Interviews allow direct interaction between potential candidates and the interviewer. The interviews can either be structured or unstructured, depending on the employer’s preference. Structured interviews are based on a specific criterion designed to meet the job requirements. The criterion assesses knowledge, skills (soft and technical), and abilities (KSA) required to perform a job (Schaafsma et al., 2016). There is no consensus on evaluation standards with unstructured interviews as the interview questions are at the interviewer’s discretion. In one-on-one interviews, the candidates meet only one interviewer. The candidates will encounter a series of interviewers, one at a time, in a sequential interview (Schaafsma et al., 2016). Panel-based interviews are typical in large companies, and the candidate meets two or more interviewers simultaneously.

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Selection Assessment Tests

Situational Judgment Tests, Cognitive Ability Tests, and Personality Tests

Situational judgment assessments examine whether the candidate can effectively handle situations they will most likely encounter on the job. The examinations are mainly administered through a written or video format. The responses are collected on a booklet or computer, and the employer evaluates the candidates’ performance based on responses. The cognitive ability test can measure a candidates’ mental abilities, including mathematical proficiency, reasoning, verbal skills, and reading comprehension. These tests are instrumental in predicting a candidate’s job performance (Nguyen et al., 2019). Usually, the tests consist of multiple choices and are either administered manually or electronically. The total score of the cognitive tests represents the candidate’s mental ability. Personality tests analyze candidates’ traits to determine whether they would fit the company’s culture. The commonly assessed attributes are extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.

Job Knowledge Tests and Medical Examinations

Job knowledge tests are critical in identifying the candidate’s technical ability to carry out their job. The assessments measure the candidate’s knowledge of the job’s essential areas. The tests are specifically beneficial in cases where the company does not offer initial training before job entry. Medical examinations are done to evaluate whether the candidate is physically or mentally suitable for the job in the absence of injury or disease. Medical tests are critical when the job is arduous, requires high hygiene standards, or when it may endanger the candidate’s health and wellbeing.

Biographical Data

Employers can also use biodata inventories (educational attainment, job history, and age) to decide. The biodata strategy involves collecting data on a candidate’s background and personal attributes. A study conducted by Ducey (2016) showed that biographical data is an efficient and cost-effective selection strategy that can enhance efficient human capital management. This selection methodology can be instrumental in reducing costs related to establishing, implementing, and sustaining selection procedures while facilitating the efficient management of the company’s human capital. The idea is that the candidate’s past events will predict future performance. Candidates can be asked to fill out the biodata information on their application form, and the employer will follow up to ascertain the applicant’s claims.

Job Analysis and Selection Techniques

Companies can use one or combine two or more of the above selection methods to choose the most qualified employees. Many organizations fail to select effective employees because the selection decisions are based on assessments whose validity has not been scientifically proven. Therefore, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends that companies should always conduct a job analysis to decide the selection strategy that best suits the job.

In line with this recommendation, HR should first conduct a task analysis to determine what is required of employees. The employer would need to observe or interview experts to create a list of tasks inventory. The second step is to determine what knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) the employees would need to perform their job optimally. Thirdly, the employer needs to survey and analyze the data to decide which tasks and KSA are critical to the job. The fourth step would be to select an assessment test that would effectively measure the KSA and essential duties that a candidate must have before entering the position.

Assessment types, adapted from Society of Human Resource Manager
Figure 1: Assessment types, adapted from Society of Human Resource Manager (Pulakos, n.d.).

Figure 1 demonstrates which assessment tests are task-based and which are KSA-based. Employers can use the job analysis to grasp what test will best measure their desirable qualities. A test’s reliability is the extent to which the test consistently measures something. For example, a cognitive test will be reliable if it doesn’t yield different scores every time a person takes the test. On the other hand, a test’s validity relates to the degree to which the measurement tool can foretell job performance in futurity.

Cognitive tests and job knowledge tests have high validity, low administration costs, and favorable ratings from applicants (Pulakos, n.d.) However, these tests have a high adverse impact; they are likely to discriminate against minority and protected groups. Work samples tests are the most effective tests because they have high validity, low negative affect against the minority, low costs, and are positively perceived by applicants (Pulakos, n.d.). However, it is worth noting that no test is suitable for all situations, and employers need to customize the tests to meet their needs.

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Influence of Job Analysis on Employee Selection Based on Selection Tests

An organization can conduct a job analysis to recruit and promote the right candidate for a position. The appropriate person-job can be ensured through rigorous job analysis and selecting valid and reliable assessment tests.

Personality Test

A personality test requires a person-oriented approach that focuses on human attributes such as personality traits. A study conducted by Matz et al. (2017) shows personality can predict job performance. Therefore, it can be used to select suitable candidates. For example, a job analysis for a sales position may reveal that the candidate needs to be conscientious, agreeable, and emotional stable to succeed in the job. The employer will then select and administer an appropriate personality test to the candidates. The candidate with the highest scores in the above attributes will be chosen because they have what is needed to succeed in the job. While personality tests are essential in relational positions, empirical research shows that they are ineffective in predicting future performance (Meinert, 2015). Therefore, the HR must conduct an additional assessment test that measures other tasks and KSA important to the position.

Cognitive Test

The cognitive test will be beneficial for technical jobs that require critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is a major KSA in business analytics, accounting, logistics management positions, etc. The employer will need a cognitive assessment to determine whether candidates have the critical reasoning and problem-solving skills to perform the job (Nguyen et al., 2019). The HR will administer a short multiple-choice questionnaire designed to measure the candidates’ skills.

Another example when HRs use the cognitive test is to assess whether a candidate has the job’s technical knowledge. The employer will administer a content-valid work sample test to examine the candidate’s general understanding of the job. This test’s predictive power stems from evidence that shows that cognitive abilities can accurately predict job performance (Ishola et al., 2018). The tests have high validity and are highly recommended by HR specialists. However, cognitive tests can also discriminate against protected groups- a violation of the equal employment laws. The employer should customize the tests to ensure they are accommodative of protected groups’ needs.

Medical Examination

Certain companies are legally mandated to conduct medical examinations before hiring. These jobs include rail safety workers, heavy vehicle driving, chemical and supplies companies, etc. In such instances, the relevant HR personnel will request applicants to undergo task-related evaluations to distinguish experts who meet the recommended medical requirements to execute duties related to the job. The employer will observe or interview experts in the field to grasp what medical exams are needed (Jarvis, 2018). The HR will also be tasked with analyzing work-related policies and regulatory requirements relevant to the job.

The candidates might be asked to undergo a comprehensive medical examination entailing vision, heart, spine, limbs, and urine (to test blood sugar levels). Companies with the statutory requirement to conduct an alcohol and drug test will also ask for a medical examination on the same (Schaafsma et al., 2016). Positions such as police officers, firefighting, and those that require heavy lifting will ask for a physical exam. The medical examination is usually among the last hiring steps and aims to improve workplace safety. The candidates will be chosen based on the medical examination reports. For these tests, the employers must also be wary of anti-discrimination laws. The American Disability Act prohibits employers from asking for a medical examination before extending an offer. Given the subject’s sensitivity, the employer must inform applicants beforehand that a medical exam will be required and explain or provide a rationale as to why it is needed.

Hybrid Test Approach

Job analyses are not a new concept in the military and have considerably evolved to meet modern HR planning and management needs. HR practitioners in the military classify and validate the structure and skills needed to enter the military training program. HR typically uses the task inventories strategy to select training candidates. A task inventory refers to a list of activities that make up a specific job in the organization. The selection strategies used after developing a task inventory are hybrid, i.e., they combine task-related analysis and KSA analysis.

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For example, military jobs will need a physical examination (task-oriented) and a psychological test (KSA). The physical exam will ascertain if the individual can endure the job’s demanding and stressful physical needs. In contrast, the psychological test will establish whether the candidate has the discipline, secrecy, order, and respect for the hierarchy of command valued in military jobs. Other examples include conducting a situational assessment test to ascertain how a medical practitioner will handle high-risk and time-sensitive situations at the hospital. The job analysis can also help HR identify possible job hazards in the working environment and implement health and safety equipment needed to improve workplace safety. The HR can also select candidates with the appropriate education requirements that match the job’s responsibilities with the analysis. Educational qualifications are strong predictors of job performance (Ishola et al., 2018). Because the job analysis determines the job’s compensation level, the HR will select candidates whose salary or compensation expectations meet its level.

Conclusion

Job analysis and selection increase an organization’s strategic focus by effectuating its talent management. Job analyses help HR practitioners to identify the tasks and KSA required to perform a job effectively. The data derived from the job analyses process should be utilized to govern the selection decision-making procedure. There is no sole recruitment strategy appropriate for every occupation, and job analysis can help employers choose valid assessments considered instrumental in predicting workers’ prospective performance.

References

Ducey, A. J. (2016). The cross-national generalizability of biographical data: An examination within a multinational organization [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of South Florida.

Jarvis, C. (2018). Physical examination and health assessment. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Ishola, A. A., Adeleye, S. T., & Tanimola, F. A. (2018). Impact of educational, professional qualification, and years of experience on accountant job performance. Journal of Accounting and Financial Management, 4(1), 33–44. Web.

Matz, S. C., Kosinski, M., Nave, G., & Stillwell, D. J. (2017). Psychological targeting as an effective approach to digital mass persuasion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 114(48), 12714–12719. Web.

Meinert, D. (2015). What do personality tests really reveal? SHRM. Web.

Morris, S. B., Daisley, R. L., Wheeler, M., & Boyer, P. (2015). A meta-analysis of the relationship between individual assessments and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(1), 5–20. Web.

Nguyen, N. N., Nham, P. T., & Takahashi, Y. (2019). Relationship between ability-based emotional intelligence, cognitive intelligence, and job performance. Sustainability, 11(8), 1–16. Web.

Picardi, C. A. (2019). Recruitment and selection: Strategies for workforce planning and assessment. SAGE Publications.

Pulakos, E. (n.d.). Selection assessment methods: A guide to implementing formal assessments to build a high-quality workforce. SHRM Foundation. Web.

Schaafsma, F. G., Mahmud, N., Reneman, M. F., Fassier, J-B., & Jungbauer, F. H. W. (2016). Pre‐employment examinations for preventing injury, disease and sick leave in workers. Cochrane Database Systematic Review, 2016(1), 1–38. Web.

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