Details, Details, Details!

People have been asking me lately to get more detailed in my recommendations. Specifically, they are asking why I keep emphasizing EEOC guidelines that are over 30 years old, test-validity studies that take considerable work, interviews that are behaviorally focused, and formal education. Why don’t I get more specific and just tell people what they should do? Well, here you go! Understanding The Job Using Job Analysis Serious job analysis requires some detective work. You start by lining up a dozen or so jobholders and their managers. Jobholders are the best source of information about how the job is done, and managers are the best source of data about performance expectations. You convert all this information into a questionnaire that you give to more jobholders. You convert the questionnaire results into a list of MEASURABLE competencies and present it to a visionary manager who tells you what to add or delete based on future job changes. Oh, by the way, just any old competencies list will not do. Each competency should be measurable, job-related, should differentiate both between jobs and among jobs, and not be title or job-specific. If you got a list of competencies out of a book or training program, you will think they work, but the system will “unravel” after 12 to 18 months. A thorough job analysis gives you the most comprehensive picture of the job. It establishes both job requirements and business necessity. Now, it’s you turn to ask yourself:

  • What am I doing to develop a comprehensive picture of the job, establish job requirements and establish business necessity?
  • How much important data am I missing by not doing a thorough job analysis?
  • How much critical data am I missing by not interviewing jobholders, managers or visionaries?

Choosing The Right Selection Tools Data from the job analysis almost always indicates the kind of selection tools that should be used. These include behavioral interviews to screen candidates, probe for past experience, and gather preliminary candidate competency data; one-on-one simulations to evaluate real-time coaching skills, selling skills, customer service skills, teamwork skills, formal presentation skills, etc.; work samples to determine the ability to perform key aspects of the job in real-time; and tests or exercises to measure thinking ability, planning ability and attitudes, interests and motivations. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Selection tools are designed to systematically, accurately, and thoroughly measure whether the candidate has the competencies required for the job. Now it’s your turn to ask yourself:

  • What tools am I using to systematically and thoroughly measure candidate skills?
  • How much important data am I missing by not using a full compliment of measurement tools?

Validating Each Selection Tool Just choosing selection tools is insufficient. You must also set scoring standards. This is called “validation.” But what does validation really mean? There are many definitions. We’ll look at the two most popular. One type of validation requires the “tool” to accurately resemble the content for the job (i.e., be “content valid”). The second type requires that scores on the tool directly relate to job performance (i.e., be “criterion valid”). No matter how sexy or intuitively attractive the selection tool, it is the responsibility of each user to determine if it REALLY predicts job performance and if it has any adverse impact on a protected group. If scores do not relate to job performance, then why use the test? In short, validation is the process of verifying that each selection tool REALLY measures what they are supposed to measure. Now it’s your turn to ask yourself:

  • What kind of studies have I done to assure myself, and others, that my test(s) really predict(s) performance?
  • How do I know that a person scoring “90” will really perform better than a person scoring “80”?
  • How do I know that a score of 80 is really the best score for the job?
  • How many good people have I turned away, or bad people have I hired, because my tools were not validated?

Bringing It All Together Now, bring all this information together and ask yourself, how helpful to your organization can you be without:

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  • job analysis data that provides a total list of job competencies?
  • comprehensive measurement tools to assess all important job-related skills?
  • validated tools that you can trust?

From a personal perspective, what can you give up before your job effectiveness begins to suffer from:

  • Overlooking critical job requirements?
  • Overlooking critical candidate skills?
  • Using tools that have limited effectiveness?
  • Unnecessarily exposing your organization to litigation?

Just What Is Your Personal Responsibility In This Process? If you are a third party recruiter, it is not really your responsibility to do all this work. The responsibility lies within each organization. You might only have the responsibility for feeding people into an organization’s job funnel–but without access to the data I listed above, your recruiting job can never be better than trial and error. On the other hand, if you have organizational hiring responsibility, you can run but you cannot hide. You have an inescapable job responsibility in all three areas. It does no good to say that hiring managers should take on the burden of being people-measurement experts. Line mangers are busy making the organization run profitably. Your job as the “gate-keeper” is to make sure only the most qualified people get through the front door–and to take measures that ensure your organization selects only people who are qualified for the job. Conclusion I wish I could tell you how many times I have heard people tell me this is too much work, they don’t care about being sued, or they don’t have the time. Each time I hear this, I wonder how it would sound to the President or CEO. Probably something like this:

  • “I’m sorry, Sir. I just don’t care if our organization gets sued for discrimination and we end up in the news. That’s really not my problem.”
  • “I’m sorry, Ma’am. It’s just too much work for me to do a thorough job finding only qualified people. You’ll just have to work with the people I give you.”
  • “I hope you understand, Sir, I just don’t have enough time to find qualified people for our organization. Fifty percent success is fine with me.”
  • “I hope you understand, Ma’am, I get rewarded for the number of people hired, not whether or not they are successful.”

Astronauts have job tryouts, pilots have job tryouts, even quiz show contestants have job tryouts. So why are job tryouts so hard to understand in the business arena?


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