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The central importance of job analysis

Figure A outlines a structured approach to the selection process. (Include Fig 28.1 Patterson et al, 2013. P406). From Figure A it can be seen that multi-method analysis of the target role is the first stage and also that it is the bedrock on which subsequent selection decisions rest. In other words, in order to select the right person you need to have a comprehensive understanding of what the role entails.


The purpose of job analysis is to identify the relevant knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attitudes associated with effective performance in the target role. This process can be undertaken through a variety of different methods including interviews with job incumbents, interviews with patients and also direct observation of job incumbents.

Patterson et al (2008) describe a two phase process of job analysis used to identify competencies in 3 secondary care specialties: obstetrics and gynaecology, anaesthesia and paediatrics. The first phase used qualitative methodology and involved observation by trained occupational psychologists, critical incident focus groups with doctors of different levels of experience and with patients and finally, a review of the relevant research literature. The quantitative phase followed on from the qualitative phase and involved a content analysis of the Phase 1 results in order to develop a questionnaire. This questionnaire focussed on 3 levels of job grade (SHO, SpR and consultant) and the participants of different levels of experience were asked to judge the importance of each competency for SHO, SpR and consultant jobs in that particular specialty.

The results from this study are shown in Table A.  From Table A it can be seen that 14 competencies were identified that were core for the 3 specialties in question, thus demonstrating that there is a common set of competency domains which are important across Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Anaesthesia and Paediatrics. But Table A also shows that the perceived importance of each competency differs in terms of prioritisation both within and between the specialties in question. So for example, vigilance is rated as the second most important competency in anaesthesia, but not in the 2 other specialties. The study authors recommend that the results of this study should be used to identify the selection criteria and selection methodology for each specialty. To return to the anaesthetic example, vigilance is clearly a key competency, and it is thus essential that the selection methodology is able to identify applicants who score highly on this particular criterion.

Table A: Mean Importance rating for each competency domain within each specialty (Patterson et al, 2008) 

AnaesthesiaPaediatricsObstetrics & Gynaecology
Domain Mean Domain Mean Domain Mean
Integrity 13.32 Communication 13.83 Integrity 14.07
Vigilance 13.14 Empathy 13.65 Empathy 13.93
Communication 12.94 Integrity 13.64 Communication 13.80
Empathy 12.76 Personal attributes 13.40 Personal attributes 13.23
Personal attributes 12.76 Team involvement 13.18 Coping with pressure 12.98
Coping with pressure 12.65 Coping with pressure 12.97 Team involvement 12.86
Clinical expertise 12.50 Learning 12.82 Vigilance 12.58
Learning 12.40 Vigilance 12.38 Learning 12.61
Team involvement 11.92 Clinical expertise 12.28 Clinical expertise 12.38
Problem solving 11.48 Organisation and planning 12.11 Legal, ethical 11.78
Legal, ethical 11.00 Problem solving 11.94 Problem solving 11.77
Managing others 10.51 Legal, ethical 11.88 Organisation and planning 11.66
Organisation and planning 10.28 Teaching 11.12 Managing others 10.94
Teaching 10.02 Managing others 10.97 Teaching 10.58


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