Behavioral specificity and reliability in job analysis and job specification

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Virginia Tech

Job analysis, narrowly defined, refers to the collection of data describing job-related behaviors and the characteristics of the job environment. Job specification refers to the process of inferring required traits or abilities necessary for a desired level of job performance. Differences in the judgmental processes involved in these two functions were explored by (a) investigating the potential schema- or stereotype-based nature of job specification ratings, and (b) assessing the relationship between behavioral specificity and interrater reliability. These concerns were investigated through the use of 3 groups of subject raters: one group possessing extensive job knowledge, one group possessing some degree of job familiarity, and one group possessing little or no job knowledge. All subjects completed a job analysis instrument (the Job Element Inventory) and a job specification instrument (the Threshold Traits Analysis; TTA). Contrary to predictions, little evidence was uncovered to suggest extensive schema-usage on the part of TTA raters. In addition, the 2 instruments achieved similar levels of interrater reliability among the 3 subject groups. However, marginal support was found for the notion that behaviorally specific items generate higher reliability the less-specific items, and in replication of previous findings, job-naive raters were found unable to achieve the reliability of subject matter experts. Suggestions for future research are offered.