Job Descriptions

Interviewing SkillsInterviewing skills are important in any business or professional environment. Most team leaders will find that a part of their responsibilities is to be involved in the hiring process for their organizations. Although this article focuses on the hiring process, interviewing skills and techniques can be used in a broader context.

Clarity is a foundational. Why do we raise the issue of clarity? The answer is simply that if you are not crystal clear about what you are trying to accomplish, you decrease your chances of success. Brian Tracy’s Law of Clarity states that, “The clearer you are about your goals and objectives, the more efficient and effective you will be in achieving them.”

Interviewing is only one part of a much larger process context called staffing. Staffing is the entire process of hiring the right number and mix of qualified people into your organization at the right time and at the right cost.

Many organizations formally document the content of their jobs. Common methods of job documentation are checklists, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and job descriptions. Generally, employers are free to decide whether they will have job descriptions and, if so, how to use them. Many employers choose to use the written job description because it provides them the greatest utility of all job documentation methods.

Legal Requirements
Generally, federal law does not require employers to have job descriptions, but there are some exceptions. One exception concerns jobs where employees handle or dispose of hazardous waste such as oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, auto parts cleaner, paint-thinner and similar materials. The U.S. governing regulation (40 CFR S264.16) does not prescribe a format or degree of specificity for descriptions of these jobs, but it does outline what must, at a minimum, be included in them.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require employers to have job descriptions. However, employers that have job descriptions must ensure that all essential functions are covered in the job description. An essential requirement or function that is described must be expressed rather than implied. Another requirement of the ADA is that essential functions must be distinguished from non-essential functions, if the employer chooses to describe non-essential functions.

Job descriptions disclaimers such as “Performs other duties or functions as assigned” are unacceptable. If it is essential, it must be described explicitly, without prejudicial language to people with disabilities.

Keeping Job Descriptions Current
Job descriptions have the potential to become the subject of contention, including grievances or litigation. Therefore, it is critical that accuracy is maintained. Some jobs are dynamic and change rapidly due to technological or organizational considerations. These job descriptions should be reviewed often. Other jobs may change very little over long periods of time. In any event, the job description should designate a specific individual that is responsible for keeping them current and reviewing them on a regular basis.

Some employers use one or more disclaimers to remind readers that job descriptions are not meant to be all-inclusive and the job itself is subject to change. Some disclaimer examples are:

“Nothing in this job description restricts management’s right to assign or reassign duties and responsibilities to this job at any time.”

“This job description reflects management’s assignment of essential functions; it does not prescribe or restrict the tasks that may be assigned.”

“Critical features of this job are described under the headings below. They may be subject to change at any time due to reasonable accommodation or other reasons.”

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Hiring, Leadership

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