Selection of Personnel for
University of Tulsa
Each year in the United States, thousands of men and women apply for jobs as police officers and firefighters. They are tested for cognitive and physical ability and given background checks. In some jurisdictions, candidates are interviewed by personnel officials, whereas others require clinical assessments of psychopathology. A medical examination insures current physical health and a residency investigation insures the correct address. Successful completion of these procedures results in a list of candidates eligible to perform hazardous work in service to the taxpayers. After this extensive evaluation, however, are the eligible candidates really able to handle the dangers, risks, and perils inherent in the emergencies to which they must respond? We do not know.
Personnel selection for hazardous jobs performance is problematic in two ways. The first concerns the meaning of "hazard" in hazardous work, and the second concerns defining the individual differences that predict effective performance in hazardous work. How should we define hazardous work, how can we evaluate the requirements of such work, and how can we translate these requirements into personnel assessment procedures? In trying to deal with the definitional problem, we should note that jobs are not hazardous because the people performing them experience stress. If this were true, then we might conclude such jobs as secretary, book editor, meter reader, and university professor are hazardous.
In a series of studies of stress among Navy divers, Biersner and his colleagues categorized diver performance as hazardous, because it involved substantial