Person-Job (PJ) fit is fundamental to any recruitment effort, and is in its simplest form a one-to-one matching between characteristics of a job and characteristics of the applicant. Fitting a person to a job is much like fitting a key to a lock. A key has the required size, number and shape of teeth, the right characteristics, to turn the lock. Similarly, an employee must have the right knowledge, skills and abilities and the right characteristics to fit a job.
To determine the correct job characteristics, a job analysis must be conducted.
Job analysis is a formal process of determining necessary knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs) needed to be proficient at a job. I present here a basic task clustering method for job analysis but other methods, such as competency modeling, are also useful.
Job Analysis By Task Clustering
- Interview or lead a focus group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in order to develop a comprehensive list of KSAOs. You can have the SME walk through a typical day or problem, ask them about their performance requirements or have them simply list performed tasks and task frequency.
- Personally observe SME’s to discover tasks they overlook.
- Use all of the qualitative information from interviews, focus groups and observations to determine the primary functions of the job. The number of functions should be in the range of 5 to 10.
- Within each job function, identify the all the necessary tasks to perform that function. Lists of example generic task statements can be found on O*NET. To write a task statement: (a) Start with what is done using a functional action verb (e.g. prepares, analyzes, meets, leads), (b) Follow the action verb with an object (to whom/for what purpose) (c) Add how the task is performed, and (d) Finish with why the task is performed.
Sticking with the lock and key example for determining job fit, consider this example for a locksmith: Job Function: Customer service interaction. Example task: Ask (a) the customer (b) for all relevant information about the problem (c) over the telephone (d) in order to choose the best tools for the job.
- Once all functions and tasks are clearly defined, have them audited by the Subject Matter Experts and refined. Writing concise unambiguous tasks is the most difficult step in the job analysis process. Repeated cycles of task evaluation and refinement may be necessary.
Once the job analysis is finished, it can be used to write a reliable and valid job description complete with all the knowledge skills, abilities and other characteristics needed to find that perfect key-like fit. Not conducting a job analysis is like choosing a key without looking at the lock. You may find one that appears to fit, but no matter how much effort and resources you apply, you’ll never unlock the full potential of the candidate. For organizations, this has serious implications. PJ fit contributes to fewer turnovers, less absenteeism and less resentment by the employee. Employees that fit a job are more involved, more committed, have a greater amount of trust in the organization and an overall higher level of well-being. So an employee that fits the job is both happier and less costly to the organization.
A complete and comprehensive job analysis is a far more than a recruitment tool; it’s a versatile document that serves many functions in an organization. A job analysis provides a foundation for the development of training programs, performance management systems and testing instruments, but perhaps most importantly offers legal protections. The Supreme Court case Griggs v. Duke Power Co
(1971) established that the burden of proof for any job requirement is on the employer. The means of providing this proof is through a job analysis, and not one thrown together but a comprehensive one that can hold up in court.
About the Author:
Daniel is a former Ohioan transplanted to the blissful bay. He received his BA in German and Psychology in 2010 from Ohio State and then served two years with AmeriCorps in San Jose. Now he is a graduate student in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at San Francisco State University, where he assists with NASA research that will help put a man on Mars, and dreams of one day owning a dog. Check out his website, follow him on Twitter, circle him on Google, or connect with him on Linkedin.