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In order to conduct a proper job analysis study, typically a panel of practitioners and possibly educators are assembled. The persons should not only know the field but also understand the target audience. Choosing the right people is critical.

Choosing SMEs


What criteria should a qualified Subject Matter Expert (SME) have?

There are three major things to consider when choosing an SME for the panel:

  1. Knowledge of profession
  2. Representative of position
  3. Flexible to meeting requirements

In order for someone to break down the particulars of a job, he or she will obviously need to know the job very well. A panelist should have in depth knowledge of all aspects of the job. It is better to have panelists that are considered "jacks of all trades" instead of "masters of one." If a panelist is only specialized in one area, he or she will not be able to participate in discussions of other areas of the job. A good panelist should have at least minimum level of competence required to take the certification exam, but it is important not to get too many seasoned veterans as their jobs could have evolved away from the target audience over time. Also, it is not required that the panelists currently be working in the profession that the exam is being written for, however they should work close enough to know all parts of the profession.

A SME panelist should be a representative of the profession as well. The panelists should be representative of the exam candidates in job title, education level, geographic region, race, and gender. Including stakeholders or managers of the role on the panel can sometimes be beneficial to the process, however they should be limited due to the fact that they may have less working knowledge of the profession compared to the other SMEs knowledge. If at all possible, try to include industry leaders on the panel as it will help with face validity and marketing efforts of the certification. It is important to sample individuals from a variety of organization sizes, because smaller organizations tend to require a more broad skill set compared to individuals working in larger organizations.

It is essential that a panelist must attend the required meetings. A panelist should have the ability to work as a team or committee since this is how the discussion and domains are decided. Finally, a panelist should be able to devote the time necessary to complete the work assignments and ensure that deadlines for the exam are met.

After the panel of SMEs is created, work can then be started on writing the exam outline.


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