Technical Reports

Selection of Railroad Dispatcher Candidates

  • 01
  • Mar
  • 2003
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration; Judith Gertier
KEYWORDS: Train dispatcher, Personnel, Personnel selection, Personnel Assessment methods
ABSTRACT: This report presents the results of a study to explore approaches to railroad dispatcher trainee selection. The work was conducted in response to an indication from railroad industry representatives that there is a need for guidance in developing a dispatcher selection program, particularly with respect to assessing candidates with no prior railroad experience. The development of a selection program involves the following steps: job analysis, employee specification, assessment instrument development/identification and validation. A job analysis, using the Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) and based on interviews with dispatchers from four different dispatching centers, identified the skills, abilities and other characteristics against which dispatcher candidates can be evaluated. Cognitive abilities comprised the largest number of characteristics. A variety of tools for assessing these characteristics were identified. These include structured interviews and test instruments. Specific tests for intelligence and numerical aptitude were identified by the PAQ methodology. In addition, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a self-report personality inventory, may provide useful information with regard to personal characteristics. The overall dispatcher selection program should be some combination of the "total assessment" and "multiple hurdles" approaches. Site visits to seven dispatching centers provided information about each railroad's current dispatcher candidate recruitment and selection process. The experiences of these seven illustrate the utility of the various selection methods and offer some additional recruitment and selection strategies. Occupations that are potential sources of dispatcher candidates were identified using both the PAQ methodology and a U.S. Department of Labor occupational database (O*NET). These occupations are in the protective services, transportation, mining and utilities industries.
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