Chapter 6 taking it to the field

One activity that many I/O consultants must address is providing advice to organizations about how to select people for the organization. Because there are many different tools available, consultants must consider what will be reasonable given each client’s situation. Pierce Janssen, the CEO of JMF Fireworks Inc., has contacted your boss asking for help redesigning the selection system they use for selecting their pyrotechnicians. Read his e-mail below and provide suggestions for how he might improve his selection battery.

Thank you for your help with our selection system—I am looking forward to hearing what you suggest. First, let me tell you a little about the open position. We are looking to hire new pyrotechnicians—that is, the people who are responsible for putting on fireworks shows for a number of clients across the United States. This job entails transporting fireworks to shows, setting them up, programming the choreography, and taking down the setup once the show is completed. In order to do the job competently, pyrotechnicians need the following abilities/characteristics:

  • They must be able to lift 50 pounds to shoulder height at least five times per show (the boxes of fireworks are quite heavy, and will need to be moved from the truck to the shoot site).
  • They need to have good customer service skills (customers will sometimes want to do things that are against regulations; our pyrotechnicians must be effective at being polite but firm so that we follow rules but don’t lose customers).
  • They must have good attention to detail (small errors can lead to very serious accidents, so our pyrotechnicians need to be careful to not cut corners and to do things by the book).
  • They must be cool under pressure (if something goes wrong, they must be able to think quickly and not panic).
  • They must also be emotionally stable and not take foolish risks during a shoot.
  • The last bullet point is fairly well covered by background checks we are required to do by the government. However, we have not always been successful in hiring people who fulfill the other four requirements. Right now, here is our selection process:
  • Applicants fill out an application blank I found online that asks about their age, race, and experience.
  • Applicants who look good on the application blank are brought in for an interview. We don’t really have an HR department, so the managers typically conduct these interviews. I’m not sure what they ask applicants—they pretty much just ask whatever they want to know and go with their gut on whether they think someone will work out well.
  • After applicants pass the interview, we send them to a room where we have a bag of sand that weighs about 50 pounds. We have them lift it from the ground and press it over their head five times.
  • Any suggestions you have about how we can better select pyrotechnicians would be greatly appreciated. If you can think of anything that we should avoid, that would be very helpful as well.
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