Posted: September 15th, 2015
1. How would you conduct a job analysis for a job that does not yet exist?
2. Do you think the abilities chosen for selection are valid? What other abilities might be generally useful for this position?
3. What reasons did the selection committee have for selecting only the factors that could not be acquired in a two-year training program?
Job Analysis and Hiring Decisions at Ovania Chemical
Ovania Chemical Corporation is a specialty chemical producer of polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) thermoplastic resins primarily used to make containers for soft
drinks and bottled water, as well as packaging for food and pharmaceutical products.
Though smaller than other chemical producers that produce globally, Ovania has
competed successfully in its niche of the U.S. specialty chemical business. Its main
plant is located in Steubenville, Ohio, positioned along the Ohio River midway
between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Wheeling, West Virginia. In recent years,
advances in technology have altered the nature of chemical production, and like
other firms in the industry, Ovania Chemical is taking steps to modernize its facili-
ties. Not surprisingly, these technological changes have been accompanied by
redesign in employee jobs. In fact, over the last three years, there have been drastic
changes in both the number and the kinds of jobs being performed by employees.
The latest change at the Steubenville plant involves the job transformations of the
system analyzer position.
The System Analyzer
Because chemical production involves highly integrated process technologies, some-
one must monitor all of the individual components simultaneously. The system ana-
lyzer is primarily responsible for this monitoring function. It is one of the most pres-
tigious nonmanagerial jobs in the entire plant, and its importance is likely to grow.
Formerly the position was classified as that of a semiskilled maintenance techni-
cian, but as the plant has become more automated, the requirements for the system
analyzer job have become much more extensive. Knowledge of pneumatics, hydraulics,
information technology, programming, and electrical wiring are all increasingly criti-
cal aspects of this job. As these up-skilling trends continue, the three men who cur-
rently hold the position admit that they will be incapable of performing adequately in
the future. It is estimated that within two years, the tasks, duties, and responsibilities
of the system analyzer will have changed by more than 70 percent. For these reasons,
management decided to recruit and select three new people for the rapidly transform-
Job Analysis and New Position Analysis
Ovania’s Steubenville plant manager, Jack Sarabe; the HR manager, Emily Claire; and
two senior engineers, Dave Packley and Mark Young, formed a selection committee.
With the help of two consultants, they first conducted a job analysis for the new
position of system analyzer. Although they had to project into the future regarding
the specific nature of the job, they collectively felt they had created an accurate
depiction of the requirements for someone who would occupy the position. Figure
3-1 shows a list of the major performance dimensions of the job and a subsample of
specific tasks characteristic of each dimension.
From this list of tasks, the selection committee then delineated a set of personal
qualities required for anyone who would hold the system analyzer position. These
qualities included the twelve abilities shown in Figure 3-2. The numbers beside each
ability indicate the tasks (see Figure 3-1) to which it is related. The abilities marked
with an asterisk (*) were considered by the committee to be “critical.” Any applicant
not scoring well on each of the critical dimensions would be considered unqualified
for the job.
Figure 3.1: Performance Dimensions (Tasks and Duties)
MAINTAINING SPARES AND SUPPLIES
1. Anticipates future need for parts and supplies and orders them.
2. Stocks parts and supplies in an orderly fashion.
3. Maintains and calibrates test equipment.
4. Applies calibration standards to verify operation by subjecting the system to known standards.
5. Decides whether the problem is in the sensor, in the processor, in the process stream, and/or in the
6. Uses troubleshooting guides in system manuals to determine the problem area.
7. Uses test equipment to diagnose the problem.
8. Makes a general visual inspection of the analyzer system as a first troubleshooting step.
9. Replaces components such as printed circuit boards and sensors to see if the problem can be
HANDLING REVISIONS AND NEW INSTALLATIONS
10. Makes minor piping changes such as size, routing, and additional filers.
11. Makes minor electrical changes such as installing switches and wires and making terminal changes.
12. Uses common pipefitting tools.
13. Uses common electrical tools.
14. Reads installation drawings.
15. Maintains system files showing the historical record of work on each system.
16. Maintains loop files that show the application of the system.
17. Updates piping and instrument drawings if any changes are made.
18. Maintains Environmental Protection Agency records and logbooks.
19. Disassembles analyzers to perform repairs onsite or back in the shop.
20. Replaces damaged parts such as filters, electronic components, light source, lenses, sensors,
21. Uses diagnostic equipment such as oscilloscopes, ohmmeters, and decade boxes.
22. Tests and calibrates repaired equipment to ensure that it works properly.
23. Reads and follows written procedures from manuals.
24. Observes indicators on systems to ensure proper operation.
25. Adds reagents to systems.
26. Decides whether the lab results or the system is correct regarding results (resolves discrepancies
between lab and analyzer results).
27. Performs calibrations.
Figure 3.2: Abilities and Tasks
Numbers represent tasks cited in the performance dimensions. Asterisks indicate abilities considered critical by the committee.
SKILLS TASK NUMBERS
*Finger dexterity 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 27
*Mechanical comprehension 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 7, 14, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 27, 11, 17
*Numerical ability 11, 3, 4, 24, 10, 21, 12, 13, 14, 27
*Spatial ability 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 14, 19, 20
*Visual pursuit 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27
*Detection 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 19, 20, 23, 7
Oral comprehension 1, 2, 5, 6, 26, 7, 8, 9, 19, 21, 25
Written comprehension 1, 15, 16, 17, 18
Deductive reasoning 1, 5, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 21, 20, 22, 2, 26, 27
Inductive reasoning 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 21, 20, 22, 2, 26, 27
Reading comprehension 3, 6, 14, 7, 22, 23, 21, 9, 27
Reading scales and tables 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 21, 23, 24, 27, 2, 6, 14
Anticipated Selection Process
The committee hoped to gain “new blood” for the redesigned system analyzer job
and therefore wanted to recruit externally for the best available talent they could
find. However, as a matter of policy, management was also deeply committed to the
idea of promoting from within. After deliberation, the committee decided to recruit
both internally and externally for the new position. It also decided to especially
encourage current system analyzers to “reapply” for the job.
Because of the two-year lead time before the newly transformed position would
be put in place, the committee was very careful not to include in the selection battery
any skills or knowledge that could reasonably be trained within that two-year period.
Only aptitude or ability factors were incorporated into the selection process, rather
than achievement tests.
In a private session, a few of the selection committee members admitted candidly
that they had serious doubts whether any woman or minority member currently
in the relevant labor market would have requisite credentials to be competitive
for the position. The three present system analyzers were white males. However,
because Ovania Chemical had a rather unenviable history of employment discrimination
charges, the committee decided to do no unnecessary prescreening of applicant
qualifications, previous experience, and so on. This strategy was thought to
encourage minorities and women to apply for the new position irrespective of their
prior employment history.
However, there was some concern about prejudice if a woman or minority
member were to get the job. According to the grapevine, many did not consider a
woman or minority suitable for such a prestigious position. Moreover, several people
commented that a woman would not get down into the treatment tanks to check
gauge readings. All of these factors, taken together, made for a very sensitive selection
process. Ovania’s management, however, was dedicated to making the procedures
and decisions fair and objective.
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