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Job Descriptions

Job descriptions and interviews

Before hiring someone, you need to understand what the job really involves.

Prepare a written description of the duties and responsibilities of the job. This is known as a “job description” or “position description” and should contain:

  • Position number and division/department;
  • Job classification level and salary range;
  • Major functions and tasks;
  • Major responsibilities;
  • Skill needed;
  • Performance measures – qualitative and quantitative;
  • Knowledge and qualifications required.

A job description should be: 

  • Clear and objective; and
  • Updated regularly (once a year)

The job description may be sent to applicants on request or handed to them prior to interview. It is also useful for orientation, supervision, training, performance appraisals and counselling, reclassification and upgrades.

How to obtain help:

  • Contact your personnel agency (if you use one) for advice;
  • Check award definitions;
  • Look at past benchmark job descriptions.

The key aspects of the job description then become the selection criteria, which will be used in interviewing candidates. These include: 

  1. Experience
  2. Knowledge
  3. Qualifications
  4. Motivational level
  5. Communication skills both oral and written
  6. Interpersonal skills
  7. Technical skills
  8. Analytical skills
  9. Other.

The document need not be long, but it must completely cover all aspects of the position and the company. The job description has a number of uses:

  1. Instead of describing the job repeatedly at interview, it can help candidates develop a sound understanding before the meeting.
  2. The document can become the basis for a permanent job description.
  3. When undertaking a candidate’s annual performance appraisal, the document can be referred to as the basic framework for the position.
  4. The document can be modified for each new recruitment. 

How to source suitable job applicants

A recruitment consultancy should be able to assist in finding suitable applicants. Also consider the following methods:

  • Word of mouth – contacts from existing staff, friends, colleagues;
  • Advertising – newspapers, trade journals, internet;
  • Databases of recruitment firms.

When suitable applicants have been found, ensure that they all receive a copy of the job description and have them complete the application form and submit a resume.

Sample interview questions

  1. What attracts you to this position?
  2. Are there areas in the job description that need further explanation?
  3. What could you bring to this position?
  4. What could this position bring to you?
  5. Career:
    • What were your original career aims?
    • Have you achieved them?
    • What are your aims now?
    • What is your strategy for getting there?
  6. Previous Position:
    • What did you most like about the role?
    • What did you least like about the role?
  7. What were the key achievements in your last position?
  8. In your career, which roles did you enjoy the most and why?
  9. What is most important to you in business and or the workplace?
  10. What was your most recent salary package?
  11. Hypothetical questions, like:
    • What would you do if (insert scenario)?
    • If XYZ happens, then what would you do?
    • How would you deal with (insert scenario)?
  12. Interviewer’s comments.