Job Analysis is the process used to identify and determine, in detail, the particular job duties and requirements and the relative importance of these duties for a given job. Job analysis is the first step in proper employee selection. However, many I/O psychologists choose to set their efforts in this area specifically because of its diversity and connection with other areas of the field such as leadership identification and executive development. It is an excellent area for consultants to work in as many companies prefer to use an outside source for this endeavor and it usually goes hand-in-hand with employee selection consultation work.
Additionally, thorough job analysis is used to support organizations dealing with legal issues or to help avoid law suits. This information can be used in court by companies in need of supporting documentation in disputed decisions in regard to a past or a current employee. In this article we will be discussing in greater detail the methods of job analysis as it relates to job evaluation.
Often a job analysis will start with interviewing. Many feel that this is the best way to obtain a clear understanding of what any particular position entails. Interviews with current position holders, direct supervisors, department heads, and parallel level employees are conducted to get information from each perspective. Most experts believe that the current employee in the position is the least reliable source of information; this is due to their bias in regard to their job, thus this aspect must be taken into consideration when analyzing the final data. Depending on the position these interviews may be causal or formal and may or may not be recorded for reference.
Often the interviewer will map out relevant questions based on the current job description and outline. However, this is not stringently followed because the goal is to form a detailed analysis based on what is currently needed rather than what may have been needed in the past or in a different environment.
Most of the interviewees are cooperative because they are aware that the more forthcoming they are, the better the odds of the necessary duties being performed as needed. This form of gathering job data is rarely, if ever, used alone as the information can be biased. However, when used in conjunction with the other methods described below it is a valuable means of learning about the position in question.
Questionnaires are used in many organizations to clarify or determine what the requirements and duties of a job are. There are numerous preformatted questionnaires that are at an I/O psychologist's disposal, or they may choose to create their own based on information gathered from other means.
Many trained job analysts find that direct observation is one of the best methods of gathering information about what is directly involved with performing a specific job. While it may take considerable time and effort, it yields excellent results. Again this method is usually used in conjunction with other methods and is not relied on solely to create a thorough description of a position.
A psychometric test is a way of assessing a person's ability or personality in a measured and structured way. There are three main types of tests: ability, personality, and interest tests. These tests are often used by employers to help in the recruitment process. Employees also use them to help decide which career path might be suitable for them. Psychometric testing has become so prevalent that all I/O psychologists must have some knowledge of how they work. In this section we will look at the most common tests currently being used in organizations.
These are designed to allow organizations to measure aspects of an individual's personality. Unlike aptitude or ability tests there are no right or wrong answers. The goal of personality tests is to get an idea of how individuals will behave in various situations.
These tests are designed to measure an individual's intellect, not their formal educational level. The results indicate ability, or lack thereof, in problem solving, logic, acquired cultural knowledge, and general intelligence. These tests are not often given in the business world but rather in other organizations such as universities, schools, and other institutions.
Intelligence tests usually measure two factors:
Fluid ability. Fluid intelligence refers to abilities such as problem solving and reasoning, and is generally thought not to be influenced by one's cultural experience or education. The fluid ability is thought to remain consistent throughout one's life with regard to vocabulary. However, seeing similarities between objects and situations and general information processing, ability level in areas such as solving puzzles, classifying figures into categories, and changing problem solving strategies easily with each new problem may decrease with age.
Crystallized ability. Crystallized intelligence refers to specific acquired knowledge and is thought to be influenced by one's cultural experience, acquired knowledge, and education. Crystallized ability tends to increase with age and is influenced by the individual's fluid intelligence. The higher the fluid intelligence the more knowledge one is able to acquire and assimilate over time.
Moral tests are often used to test one's ability to make choices that take others into consideration and make decisions based on a well developed sense of right and wrong. They measure ethics and honesty. These tests are often given to establish an individual's propensity for making responsible choices despite temptation or difficult circumstances. Some uses of these tests are to recognize employees who may or may not have the inclination to steal, lie, or cheat particularity if they have easy access to sensitive data, money, products, or merchandise. They also help organizations to establish desired leadership traits such as integrity, honesty, and strong ethical values.
Aptitude or Ability Tests
Ability tests measure an individual's knowledge of a specific skill; they are usually given to establish proficiency of a learned or practiced subject. Aptitude tests measure the general aptitude an individual has. They are not necessarily dependent on prior education or knowledge of facts.
There are two types of ability test, attainment and aptitude.
These are designed to assess what an individual knows at the time that the test is taken. Examples of attainment tests are driving tests or software program tests. They essentially test the level of knowledge with a specific skill or achievement of a set of skills.
These tests are designed to measure the persons potential for performing well in certain activities. They do not rely on any previous knowledge or training, but more on the natural ability or aptitude of the individual. The two most common forms of aptitude tests are verbal andnumerical reasoning tests. They often help one discover their hidden or unrecognized talents and abilities in one area over another.
It is clear that I/O psychology has numerous opportunities in the business world. Often these specialties overlap and intertwine, which makes the transition from one specialty to another a much easier task. There is an area in this field for any type of personal interest whether it be working directly with people or working in the background by setting policy and procedure.
While many I/O psychologists work exclusively for one company many more choose to act as consultants to numerous businesses. This diversity coupled with the potential for high earnings has been drawing psychologists to the field in increasing numbers.
It is in your best interest to pursue an advanced degree in I/O to land the best opportunities. However, jobs do exist for those who are at a bachelor's level who wish to learn more about the field before committing to graduate school. Whichever the route you choose we hope that this article has bought you a clearer understanding of I/O psychology and the many diverse areas in which to practice this exciting and growing area of the study of human behavior.