The person whom I observed was the HR manager at Company. She has been involved in managing a human resource for three years. I had the opportunity to observe samples of job descriptions and interview protocols composed by the manager during the last year.
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A good job description should possess a number of characteristics. First of all, it should completely and precisely reflect an employee’s responsibilities, reporting relations and other characteristics of a given position (Woll, 2006, p. 34). The observed job description samples fully correspond to this requirement. The job descriptions are organized according to a logical outline that includes the following points:
- Job title.
- Job purpose.
- Relationship to other positions (including “reports to”, “supervises”, “communicates”).
- Problems and challenges.
- Job requirements.
- Working conditions.
- Terms of employment.
The observed job descriptions reflect what an employee is responsible for, what tasks he/she should work on at his/her position, and what an employer expects from him/her. For some positions, the mentioned points include specific subpoints connected with the peculiarities of an employee’s responsibilities.
Another characteristic of a good job description is comprehensibility to an employee. The observed manager uses simple and unambiguous expressions to describe an employee’s responsibilities, such as “communicating (what, to whom, how)”, “planning (what, when, how)”, “monitoring”, “evaluating”, “managing”, “reporting” etc. Apart from outlining what tasks an employee should be able to fulfil, a job description also makes him/her understand what knowledge and skills he/she may improve to cope with his/her duties successfully: this is determined in the “job requirements” paragraph.
An advantage of the observed job descriptions is the “problems and challenges” point. Instead of learning about the challenges connected with the given position by trial and error method, an employee has the opportunity to get ready to them from the moment of getting a job.
A good interview should provide an employer with a complete and many-sided picture of characteristics possessed by a candidate for a given position. The purpose of a job interview is to define if a candidate is able to cope with the responsibilities implied by the position (Hinds, 2005, p. 217).
According to the manager’s approach, a set of documents that refers to each job interview comprises a list of interview questions and answers and an interviewee’s evaluation based on a rating scale. I had an opportunity to observe how well these three documents supplement each other.
The manager’s interview questionnaire consists of 22 questions, both open and closed; the manager explained that each time she uses the most appropriate ones. The list begins with an interviewer offering a candidate to tell about him/herself. This question is a good beginning for an interview, as it helps understand an interviewee’s perception of him/herself and avoid the pressure that would appear in case the manager began with a closed question.
The disadvantage that I noticed in the observed interview protocols is the availability of purely “psychological” questions that are further not used by the manager in the interviewee’s evaluation. Particularly, the manager prefers to ask such questions as “What is your favourite colour?”, “What superpower would you like to have if you became a superhero?” etc. During a job interview, these questions may be effective in refreshing the environment and relieving the tension; however, in the observed case, they turned out to be of no use, as the answers are not processed in the evaluation paper. I would recommend to the manager to develop specific and unexpected psychological questions that closely relate to the discussed position and consider a candidate’s answers in further evaluation.
Besides, I learned that the manager does not considerably vary questions when interviewing candidates limiting to slight adjustments. The list includes several general questions, such as “what do you like most about your profession?” In my opinion, it is necessary to adapt the question list to interviewing candidates for different positions more thoroughly.
The manager takes detailed and structured notes during an interview supplementing a candidate’s answers with her own comments. The notes are comprehensible, well-organized and convenient for further use in a candidate’s evaluation.
To sum up, the manager’s interview protocols meet the aims of a job interview and give the opportunity to appropriately evaluate a candidate’s skills and characteristics.
Hinds, M. (2005). The Ferguson Guide to Resumes and Job Hunting Skills: A Handbook for Recent Graduates and Those Entering the Workplace for the First Time. New York: Ferguson.
Woll, T. (2006). Publishing for Profit: Successful Bottom-Line Management for Book Publishers. Chicago: Chicago Review Press.