Frequently Asked Questions

Job Analysis

What is a job analysis and what is its main purpose?

A job analysis is a systematic approach for gathering, describing, analyzing, synthesizing and documenting information about a job. It is used to identify job tasks and duties and the related knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the job from entry through journey performance.

Where can I go to find a detailed outline of the legal requirements of a good job analysis?

There are many sources, but the single best one for describing the legal requirements for a job analysis are contained in the 1978 Federal Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures. These procedures have been recognized by the United States Supreme Court and given 'great deference' by the courts.

Is a job analysis useful for HR purposes other than recruitment and assessment?

Absolutely. A sound job analysis is the underpinning that supports the human resources function. Not only do the RCWs require a job analysis before engaging in assessment and selection activities, the information contained in a job analysis is used for many purposes. Job analysis may be used to develop a job description, classification and compensation specifications, recruitment and assessment procedures, succession planning, work force projection, performance management, and training and development. When a challenge or grievance arises in a human resources situation, often times, the first question asked by the court or union is 'Where is the job analysis?'

Legal and Technical Issues

Do the legal requirements regarding job analysis, tests, and hiring apply to all positions, regardless of whether they are in WGS, WMS or exempt?

Yes. You should remember that anytime you engage in any activity that impacts the assessment or selection of a candidate, state and federal requirements apply. Even when multiple hurdles are used in selecting applicants, any activity that reduces the number of candidates can potentially implicate state and federal requirements.

Are there any WACs or similar rules which govern the way in which employment examinations are scored?

Yes. WAC 357-16-095 requires “consistent rating or scoring procedures that rate job-related competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) identified through job analysis”.

What is test reliability and test validity? Which is more important to have in a good employment test?

Reliability refers to the repeatability or consistency of obtaining similar scores when using the same test or assessment procedure with the same person. Reliability is a necessary component for establishing validity, but is not sufficient by itself. Validity refers to the accuracy of how well a test predicts what it is supposed to test. So, for an assessment procedure to work, it must be both reliable and valid. Statistically speaking, reliability sets an upper limit to the validity of a test, so without acceptable reliability you cannot have a valid test.

Do I add veteran’s preference to a candidate’s raw test score, or do I wait until a passing point for the exam is set and add the points (either 5% or 10%) to the converted score?

When an examination is scored in certain cases affecting veterans, converted scores must be increased by 5% or 10 percent. For instance, if a candidate received a converted score of 84 points, a 5% veterans preference would increase the score to 88 points. If all candidates received a score of 100, the veteran would have his/her score increased to 105 or 110. Reference Veteran’s Guidance for more complete information on applying Veteran’s Preference.

If I’m going to rank order candidates based on their combined scores from two or more separate exams, how should I weight the two exams relative to each other?

First of all, it only makes sense to use separate examinations if each exam is measuring a different set of knowledge, skills or abilities. Remember, you are going to base your procedures on the outcome of your job analysis. However, it is not as simple as just adding the two scores together and arranging candidates on a list. You may determine that Test A, which you want to measure the applicants’ communication skills, and Test B, designed to measure mathematics skill, should be equally weighted (i.e. 50/50). However, if everyone gets nearly the same score on Test A and scores vary widely on Test B, simply adding the scores together may give too much real weight to Test B. The score variance on Test A outweighs the variance on Test B and the final score will relate almost entirely on the outcome of Test B. View the link to learn more.

Test Issues

I’ve heard of multiple-choice tests, oral examinations, training and experience ratings, and other types of tests. Which one is the right type of test to hire a candidate for the recruitment I am doing?

This will depend upon a number of factors, such as the validity of the particular tests, the numbers and quality of the applicant pool, how much time you have, your available resources but most importantly the most accurate and reliable method to measure the knowledge, skills, and abilities identified in your job analysis. All of these factors can become complicated to determine, and all testing procedures have their own associated strengths. Contact us to help you make the choices that best fit your unique business needs.

Can a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) determine the manner in which a selection procedure is used?

CBAs may contain language that specifies when recruitments may be conducted and who may be included in the recruitment; or perhaps the test format that will be used (i.e., oral examination, written tests, T&Es, etc.), but CBAs may not override federal law. As such, the legal requirements surrounding job analysis, adverse impact, disparate treatment, etc. are still in force and cannot be ignored.

Is it okay to conduct group interviews to make a hiring selection, where two or more candidates hear the interview questions at the same time and then take turns responding?

While there is nothing illegal about this, and it might save you some time in scheduling and conducting interviews, you should also remember that people are applying for jobs or to be promoted, and whoever goes last might have an advantage over whoever first answered a question. There are some special assessment processes where candidates participate in group exercises, referred to as Assessment Centers, but these specialty assessment procedures require a high level of focused resources, expertise and time.

Which types of examinations are most likely to result in adverse impact, and which ones result in the least?

Any test may result in adverse impact. It will depend upon the requirements of the job, the recruitment pool, the type of test used and other factors. Always remember to conduct a quality job analysis, review your entire selection procedure, and be aware of the relative merits of your recruitment and selection plan, including validity and reliability.

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