The Call - Summer 2014 - (Page 38)

F E AT U R E USING A TELEPHONE EFFECTIVENESS By James E. Kuthy, Ph.D. and Jalane M. Meloun, Ph.D., SPRH, GPHR Introduction ABSTRACT Public agencies are constantly looking for ways to increase the potential effectiveness of their dispatcher/calltaker (hereafter referred to as telecommunicators) selection process without adding substantial costs. One of the greatest returns on investment, yet often overlooked, is a simple telephone call. There are several ways that the telephone can be used during the pre-employment selection process. First, information gathered during a telephone call can be used to determine whether the job candidate has a realistic understanding of the job's requirements. Second, it may be used as a pre-screening device to determine the eligibility of the job candidate prior to expensive testing or time-draining face-to-face interviewing. Third, it can be used for measuring a candidate's ability to effectively communicate without the use of visual cues. Finally, it can help maintain the interest of the candidate while the selection process continues. This serves to both minimize the potential of qualified candidates leaving the queue because they have not heard from your agency recently and also leaves them with a feeling that they are not lost in the shuffle. This relatively small investment in time can leave a lasting positive impression on an applicant. Keywords: 9-1-1 telecommunicator, mental health, physical health, research, PTSD 38 | THE CALL | SUMMER 2014 Verbal communication without the use of visual cues is one of the most critical and frequent tasks performed by public safety telecommunicators. This was confirmed during two national job analyses of telecommunicator positions conducted by the Biddle Consulting Group, Inc. (BCG; 2000 & 2010) during research for the CritiCall pre-employment selection test. BCG determined that public safety telecommunicators must be able to communicate effectively without the use of body language, facial expressions, or hand signals that would otherwise aid people during everyday face-to-face conversation. A follow-up study by BCG in 2010 determined that face-to-face interviews, which are traditionally the only method used by many Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for determining vocal communication skill during the pre-employment selection process, may not provide sufficient information to allow employers to make an informed judgment as to whether applicants sufficiently possess the skills necessary to communicate effectively without non-verbal cues. While there are commercially available tests that can be used to measure some of these skills, agencies should realize that they have the option to conduct their own interviews or testing using a telephone to reasonably simulate this portion of the telecommunicator's work environment during the selection process. There are several reasons why agencies should consider using a device like a telephone when measuring an applicant's ability to communicate without non-verbal cues. The first is that telephone communication mimics the types of non-visual communication behaviors that are performed by telecommunicators better than a face-to-face interview. According to the federal Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (1978; Uniform Guidelines), "[t]he closer the content and the context of the selection procedure are to work samples or work behaviors, the stronger is the basis for showing content validity." (Go to to see the complete federal Uniform Guidelines.) In addition, non-verbal cues (such as body language, eye contact, posture, facial expressions, and interpersonal distance) have been

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Call - Summer 2014

President’s Message
From the CEO
Government Affairs
Tech Trends
NENA 2014 Conference & Expo
William M. Mcmurray, Enp Scholarship
William E. Stanton Award
Abandoned 9-1-1 Calls: A Local and National Problem
Making Performance Appraisals Meaningful and Effective
Using a Telephone to Improve the Effectiveness of the Pre-Employment Selection Process
Wireless E9-1-1 Location: A Primer on Fixes, Uncertainty, And Confidence
Index of Advertisers/

The Call - Summer 2014