Job Description (JD) definition and its necessity I am sure most of you who have professional experience and have attended few job interviews will be very well aware about what a Job Description is. Still, let me reiterate. Job Description, nowadays popularly called JD, is nothing but point-wise description of skills, roles and responsibilities which is expected by a company for the particular position they are hiring for. So when an organization floats JD for any position, it will expect the candidate being interviewed to possess most of the skills (if not all) mentioned in the JD.
Question now comes why at all JD is required? Why not conduct interviews without JD for the position? After all the company will get to know the skills and experience of the candidate during interview rounds. Simple answer is that it is up to the company if they want to have JD available before interview or not but making it available to the candidates before interview shortlisting poses certain advantages to the company. In the same way, the candidate is also benefited by getting JD for the position he/she is applying. It would be worthwhile here to have a look at pros and cons of having JD in place for both employers as well as employees.
Benefits of having JD for an employer
Benefits of having JD for a candidate Now let's shift our attention to advantages of JD from interview candidate's perspective and here it seems to pose one huge advantage as detailed below.
When a candidate gets JD before attending the interview or even before sharing the CV to the consultant or directly to company HR, it's a golden opportunity to tailor the CV, so as to reflect skills mentioned in JD as foremost and lay emphasis on them. This sometime makes it easy for the CV to get shortlisted for the interview. Also, as required skills and expected roles and responsibilities are mentioned in JD, the candidate can best use the JD to prepare for the interview and brush up those skills mentioned in JD. The candidate can also prepare answers to general behavioral questions as per the roles and responsibilities mentioned in the JD.
All this I feel would make the candidate a bit more confident and aware while attending the interview compared to case where no JD was there, which would keep candidate wondering as to what the hiring manager might be expecting from them. On the other hand, if a candidate finds that JD does not match his profile then he can straightaway decide not to apply for the position and save time as it will really not make sense to attend the interview if at all called and waste time and energy on something you know is not fit for you and you are not going to get through.
Drawbacks of having JDBut can having JD for the position sometimes become a drawback for either the candidate or hiring managers? Well, this looks to be an odd question but still let's deep dive and find out few possible drawbacks of having JD in place.
Handling interview without a JDTowards the end I would like to touch upon one more topic which is how to handle interview without a JD.
Yes, it's a reality. Many companies do not float JD at all for their open positions as either they are short of time or they do not want JD to be shared to candidate as there are chances of candidate manipulating their answers to suit the JD. Good companies always want to assess candidate during interview in a natural way and want to listen to what are the skills and responsibilities handled by the candidate in past in a very authentic way. They want true picture of the candidate in terms of their competencies.
So when JD is not available, the candidate should approach the interview very cautiously. Their answers should be well planned and thought out beforehand as any unexpected answer in terms of roles and responsibilities may lead to rejection. When asked about roles and responsibilities handled with no JD in place, the candidate's answer should be very balanced in terms of the different kinds of roles handled like managerial, technical, people management etc. It's always safe to reflect a wide variety of roles as nowadays companies are mostly looking for all-rounder candidates rather than ones who are skilled in particular area. In this case it is equally important to research the company website and their careers section. This would give the candidate a fair idea of what kind of competencies will be expected during the interview.
I will conclude with an example now -
Suppose a candidate is currently working as manager in his present company and is only handling people management and project management responsibilities with his involvement in technical hands on work almost nil. This candidate now appears for an interview where there is no JD given. Only thing told about the position is that it's a "Senior QA / Testing role". So definitely candidate would be confused here as to in senior QA role what is expected? Is it a managerial role or individual technical contributor role? How should this interview be handled now? In such situations, to be on the safer side, the candidate should convey himself or herself as a person who has been manager but handling both managerial and technical responsibilities equally well. They can give some proportion like 60% of the time into managerial and 40% into technical contribution. Technically sound persons and those who have hands on capabilities to do technical work are always valued by the companies nowadays as they can be an asset. So even if company is expecting managerial role, if candidate is also technically hands on it would be good value addition to the company.
ConclusionTo sum up, we can say that though JD may pose certain advantages to the candidate in terms handling the interview, it should not be something which the candidate should overuse and be too dependent on. While there is no harm in doing so, I would advise candidates to prepare on other areas outside the JD as well and not be over dependent on JD. If it's there, it's well and good and if not, there still it should not matter much. So to conclude, JD or no JD, it should not dictate your interview outcome; rather, the interview outcome should be dictated by your skills, your confidence and your presentation.