How To Hire Handbook


The primary purpose of a job description is to identify the essential functions of the position. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), essential functions are those tasks or functions of a particular position that are fundamental to the position (as opposed to marginal). Knowing the essential functions of the job will aid you in:
ท         writing appropriate interview questions; and
ท         determining whether a person is qualified to perform the essential functions; and
ท         identifying reasonable accommodations to enable a disabled person to perform the essential functions.


In identifying essential functions, be sure to consider (1) whether employees in the position actually are required to perform the function, and (2) whether removing that function would fundamentally change the job.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, from which the issue of essential functions has come into focus, lists several reasons why a function could be considered essential:
    ท  the position exists to perform the function (e.g., if you hire someone to proofread documents, the ability to proofread accurately is an essential function, since this is the reason that the position exists);
    ท  there are a limited number of other employees available to perform the function, or among whom the function can be distributed (e.g., it may be an essential function for a file clerk to answer the telephone if there are only three employees in a very busy office, and each employee has to perform many different tasks);
    ท a function is highly specialized, and the person in the position is hired for special expertise or ability to perform it (e.g., a company expanding its business with Japan is hiring a new salesperson, so requires someone not only with sales experience, but also with the ability to communicate fluently in the Japanese language).
To identify the essential functions of the job, first identify the purpose of the job, and the importance of actual job functions in achieving this purpose. In evaluating the "importance" of job functions, consider, among other things, the frequency with which a function is performed, the amount of time spent on the function, and the consequences if the function is not performed. The EEOC considers various forms of evidence to determine whether or not a particular function is essential; these include, but are not limited to:
ท         the employer''''s judgment;
ท         the amount of time spent on the job performing that function; and
ท         the availability of others in the department to fill in for the person who performs that function.
In defining the essential functions of a job, it is important to distinguish between methods and results. For example, is the essential function moving a fifty pound box from one part of the lab to another, or is it carrying the box? While essential functions need to be performed, they often do not need to be performed in one particular manner (unless doing otherwise would create an undue hardship).


So now it''''s time to write the job description. Have you carefully thought about what is REALLY needed? Is there tolerance for a new person''''s learning curve? As you consider your responses to these questions, remember that the staff of the Employment Office are available to offer you guidance in writing your job description. There are certain important elements that are of great importance; include these in each job description. The Rice University form prompts you for this information. Please refer to the sample that is attached; we''''ve put tips and guidelines in each appropriate section.
Once you write your job description:
    ท  forward it, for review and approval, to all appropriate parties up through your school or division''''s top approving authority
    ท  approving authority forwards it to HR (Compensation) for review and grading
    ท  HR reviews, grades, discusses questions, and returns it to your school or division approving authority, who reviews classification of new position and approves changes that will impact the budget

In summary:

    ท  List all the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform the job; divide them into requirements and preferences
    ท  The requirements listed on the job description must support the essential functions, and serve as the primary criteria for selecting/rejecting candidates
    ท  Don''''t lock yourself into strict requirements that may prevent you from considering qualified candidates. Consider substitutions (ex., 4 years of professional experience or a bachelor''''s degree)
    ท  Keep in mind that, under the ADA, you cannot refuse to hire a qualified candidate who meets the requirements and whose disability can be reasonably accommodated

Questions? Contact Human Resources (Compensation) and/or your Employment Coordinator, and we''''ll work with you to make this a fruitful process!

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, A Technical Assistance Manual on the Employment Provisions (Title I) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1992)
Robert L. Duston, Karen S. Russell, and Lynn E. Kerr, A Guide to Writing Job Descriptions under the Americans with Disabilities Act (Washington, D.C.: College and University Personnel Association, 1992)

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