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Defining key terms

In order to understand best practice in recruitment and selection it is first necessary to clarify a number of key terms:

Job Analysis: The first step of a selection process. Methods of job analysis range from the very simple to the highly complex. Makin et al (1996 ) have identified the 3 job analysis techniques that are frequently used are (1)asking those who are currently doing the job; (2)observing people doing the job (as people may not be aware of , or take for granted certain aspects of their jobs that others may consider important); and (3) gaining information from actually performing the job itself. In occupational areas such as medicine, job analysis can also involve interviewing patients to access their opinions on what they are looking for in the doctors who treat them (Patterson et al, 2008).

Person Specification: Description of the personal characteristics necessary to perform the particular role. Characteristics may be divided into essential and desirable. (Makin et al, 1996). In the case of recruitment for specialty training posts in the UK, each specialty at a particular level of training has a nationally agreed person specification that lists the required competences.

Competence: The skills that doctors need (The Gold Guide, 2010).

Whilst clinical competence presumes a thorough base of medical knowledge, the term ‘Clinical Competence also encompasses other professional practice elements such as doctor-patient communication, problem solving ability, management skills, relationships with colleagues and ethical behaviour (Boursicot, Roberts and Burdick, 2013).

Selection Centres (also known as assessment centres): A combination of selection techniques such as written exercises, interviews and work simulations to assess candidates across a number of key competences (Patterson et al, 2013).

Reliability: The form of selection gives consistent results under varying conditions. (For example, if five interviewers on a panel score a given candidate with the same score, then that interview question has high inter-rater reliability).

Validity: The form of selection measures what it sets out to measure. One specific form of validity – criterion validity – assesses how well scores on the interview or other selection method, predict future outcome (e.g. some aspect of future performance on the job).

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