Every job interview must demonstrate it's job relatedness under federal law.

Have you ever wondered how interview questions and tests were created? Did you think the hiring manager just pulled some questions or criteria out of the blue to assess a candidate? That's what got Duke Power Company in trouble with the law in the early 1970s.

In the 1971 landmark case, Griggs vs. Duke Power Company, Duke Power racially discriminated against African Americans by requiring all applicants to have a high school diploma and pass intelligence tests that were not related to job performance. Although the selection criteria was not intended to discriminate, the results led to an improportiate number of Caucasians passing the test and thus receiving more job offers and promotions than African Americans. Additionally, since the high school diploma and general intelligence tests did not demonstrate job relatedness (meaning attaining a diploma and higher test scores resulted in improved job performance), Duke Power Company lost the case. This set the mark on the importance of developing a job analysis to support all aspects of employee hiring, training, performance measurement, compensation and promotions.

So what is a job analysis?

The definition of a job analysis is any systematic study of a specific position's duties, work responsibilities, work environment, tools, relationships, and the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required for successful performance of the job.

Who conducts it?

Industrial organizational psychologists are the professionals that create and document job analyses to ensure validation and legal defensibility.

How is it conducted?

There are a few different techniques to perform a job analysis. The task oriented approach gives  incumbents a questionnaire to list out all their typical duties. Industrial psychologists may also interview job incumbents and their supervisors to gather an inventory of responsibilities. Another common but more time consuming process involves job shadowing to observe and document actual job performance. Once a list of duties are created, incumbents are asked to rate the frequency and importance of each task.

How are interviews created from the job analysis?

In addition to the job duties,  a list of knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs) is created. These are then tied back to each of the job duties. For example, a job duty for a cashier might involve counting money at the end of the shift. The KSAO that would be tied to this job duty is the ability to conduct basic mathematical calculations.  Those with the highest ratings (meaning they are critical to successful job performance) are then used to design the selection procedure. Selection experts go through the list and design interview questions that measure each of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics of the applicants. They may utilize a personality test, an aptitude test, a behavioral job interview, a situational judgement test, or even a work sample.

How can I better prepare for future interviews?

When you apply for a specific position, you should identify what the knowledge, skills, and abilities are for that particular position. These are often listed in the  position description but you could also find them in the Occupational Handbook (O*Net). From there you can take an inventory of your skills and write down where you've demonstrated these skills in previous environments either in the workplace or a school. In some positions you may also ask the recruiter or hiring manager what type of employment tests they utilize so you can better prepare for them.

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