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Critical Incident Technique

 

Disciplines > Human Resources > Job Analysis > Critical Incident Technique

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

In interview with the person whose job you are analyzing, ask them first to identify a 'critical incident'. This is something that is important or somehow significant within the job. It may be positive or negative in nature. It should also be a real incident that has happened, not something that might happen in the future.

Then ask them about what they did, with the goal of seeking effective or ineffective behaviors. Thus ask 'What worked?' and 'What didn't work so well?'.

Discussion

This approach, as described by Flanaghan (1954) and successfully first used in aviator assessment in the second world war.

It is useful in drawing out realistic detail that you are unlikely to find in a conventional interview. It is also very useful for discovering important skills that are needed.

Its key limitation, of course, is that it depends on the cooperation and memory of the person being interviewed. To gain full collaboration, there may need to be work done with them beforehand to build trust.

See also

Flanaghan, J.C. (1954). ‘The critical incident technique’, Psychological Bulletin, vol. 51, pp327-58

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