Hiring an Army of Me

Topic: Job Analysis
Publication: Personnel Psychology (SUMMER 2009)
ArticleUsing web-based frame-of-reference training to decrease biases in personality-based job analysis: An experimental field study
Author: H. Aguinis, M.D. Mazurkiewicz, E.D. Heggestad
Reviewed by: Katie Bachman

Job analysis is one of the cornerstones of Industrial-Organizational Psychology and the method for executing a job analysis is practically gospel. The New Testament of Job Analysis states: Thou shalt include personality measures in your study. While this is still controversial for the Old Testament adherents, including personality measures in job analysis has some face validity and, more importantly, some research to back it up. The problem, however, with implementing a personality-based job analysis (PBJA) comes down to the subject matter experts (SMEs) rating the importance of certain traits to their jobs.

Unlike job tasks, which are as impersonal as concrete, SMEs can base personality questions on something—themselves. That’s the problem. SMEs who see themselves as high on particular traits and see themselves as good performers are likely to determine that their personality profile makes for the best employee, even if that is not optimal. Instead, if you train your SMEs to not use  themselves as a reference point (instead focusing on people in their job in general), you are likely to gather more accurate data in your PBJA. The danger of not training your SMEs properly is the possibility of having an army of slightly less effective personality clones.

Using frame-of-reference training to keep your SMEs from describing themselves on your PBJA allows you all the benefits of personality measurement with none of the egoism. Amen to that!

Aguinis, H., Mazurkiewicz, M. D., & Heggestad, E. D. (2009). Using web-based
frame-of-reference training to decrease biases in personality-based job analysis.
Personnel Psychology, 62, 405-438.